Crusaders hold their nerve in dramatic clash

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Staff Reporter

Crusaders earned a vital Super League victory after coming from behind to sink Catalans Dragons 26-22 in a dramatic encounter in France.

The win left the Welsh side just two points behind the top eight and gave them an historic double over the Dragons this season.

Tries from Weller Hauraki, Jason Chan, Rhys Hanbury and Peter Lupton - all converted by Clinton Schifcofske, who also kicked a penalty - settled things in the visitors' favour.

The French side mustered a brace of tries from Clint Greenshields and one from Remi Castry in reply, while Thomas Bosc booted three conversions and two penalties.

Crusaders’ coach Brian Noble felt that his side justly won a contest that kept fans on the edge of their seats for the whole 80 minutes.

"I thought we were deserved winners," he said. "We've been improving over the last couple of weeks and some of our game improved where we needed to improve.

We talked about performance, and coming to France at the best of times is a big ask. We've prepared well and we've practised well all week.

"I thought we won it in a tough way. Our kicking game was ordinary again and we made things difficult for ourselves with the way we controlled our ball sometimes.

"But we found enough reasons to get to the end of the field and score some points.
You've certainly got to get to the right end of the field against this team and keep them at the right end of the field near their try line.

"That's one of their secrets, they've got too much prowess, people like Maguire, Sherwin and Bosc can worry any defence. At times we lost ground but you do
against this team.

"We got back in control, we got to the right end of the field, Vince Mellars came on and got the ball back from kick-off and we believed in ourselves.

"We talked about winning this week as well as playing well which is good. At times when we went ahead or got level, we were playing like we were behind all the time.

We needed to be a bit more composed at times but we certainly got to the right end of the field enough times to win. We defended a lot better this week too."

It was a nervous start for the Welsh side as Catalans started the stronger. They almost took the lead on five minutes when Sebastien Raguin was centimetres
short of grounding following a Bosc kick.

The tide turned Crusaders' way from the play-the-ball when Jarrod Sammut intercepted and the enthusiastic Malta international ran 90 metres. He was tackled
but, from the next play, Hauraki went over with Schifcofske converting.

The Dragons hit back on 18 minutes when Greenshields got on the end of a pin-perfect Bosc grubber with the half-back adding the extras.

Forever, the playmaker Bosc tried to add a further score by running onto his own chip but his opposite number Sammut cleared the ball over the dead-ball line.

Luke Dyer saved a 40-20, and a potential try, but was forced to give away a goal-line drop-out.

There was drama at the other end too when Crusaders winger Nick Youngquest had a try ruled out for a forward pass from Vince Mellars.

Catalans then took the lead when, following a penalty, Bosc slipped the ball to Greenshields for the full-back to run over for his and the Dragons' second. Bosc
converted again.

Crusaders pressed for a levelling score before the break. They could have had one if Hanbury had not spilled the ball that he intercepted with a potential clear 25-metre run to the line.

But, after a penalty, Chan stormed over in the right-hand corner. Schifcofske kicked well from an acute angle to take the two teams in level at the interval.

The try lifted the Welsh side and, after successfully catching Catalans' risky short kick-off, they took an early second-half lead when Hanbury twisted and turned to edge his way over the try-line. Schifcofske's kick made the score 18-12.

On 53 minutes, the scores were level again. Dallas Johnson broke and opened up a gap for Castry to go in under the sticks. Bosc kept up the night's 100 per cent
kicking record by converting and then added a penalty, given for obstruction, eight
minutes later to put the hosts back in front.

Crusaders attempted to fight back. Dyer was beaten to Sammut's high bomb but a Schifcofske penalty, awarded for a high tackle, two minutes later levelled the scores at 20-20 with nine minutes left on the clock.

A further Dragons penalty, again from Bosc after a high tackle, put them back in the lead but there was a final twist to the tale.

Mellars recovered a short kick-off and Sammut made a fine run before slipping the ball to Lupton to ground. Schifcofske did not let the pressure and cat-calls get to him and successfully converted to seal the win.

See full story in the Leader

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