Crusaders 60-16 Salford City Reds

Reporter:

Tom Norris

Crusaders’ biggest ever Super  League victory signalled their play-off intentions.

It capped a day of firsts for Brian Noble's side as they picked up a record-breaking third Super League win in succession and moved themselves level on points with eighth placed Castleford.

A super spell of 65 minutes between Salford's first and second try saw Crusaders romp to victory, and a fourth consecutive triumph against Harlequins on Friday in Neath will see them break into the top eight with three games to play.

Noble spoke about the need to win and then overturn the negative points difference and Crusaders did just that with a polished display.

They started the stronger of the two sides, grabbing a try after just three minutes as Weller Hauraki's forceful run and offload found Jason Chan and then Nick Youngquest, who dived over.

Unfortunately Clinton Schifcofske's conversion was wide of the posts from an acute angle.

Instead of building on a brisk start Crusaders quickly found themselves behind courtesy of Salford's six points as a Malcolm Alker grubber was collected by Stefan Ratchford for a simple try before Matty Smith converted.

But Crusaders didn't feel sorry for themselves and responded with aplomb, Hauraki again powering through a host of Salford bodies before finding Youngquest, the Australian crossing for his 10th try of the season in all competitions.

Schifcofske was left with another tough conversion which went the same way as his first.

Rhys Hanbury got his name on the scoresheet three minutes later, Hauraki at the heart of the attack to release the 24-year-old, and Schifcofske landed a simple kick.

The former Ulster man was not left waiting long for a further score, the full-back taking advantage of some excellent work from Chan to cross the whitewash before adding the extras to make the score 20-6 with 23 minutes on the clock.

Salford tried to get a foothold in the contest but everything they tried was somehow kept clear by Noble's men, Willie Talau summing up the visitors’ day as he fell over with only Schifcofske to beat.

Shaun McRae's men then saw a try scrubbed off for a forward pass, Stuart Littler the unlucky scorer.

A lull in proceedings was broken by a fifth Crusaders’ try, Tony Martin and Jarrod Sammut working to great effect before the former cut in from the right touchline to race clear.

By now Schifcofske had found his shooting boots and comfortably added a further conversion.

There was still time for returning club captain Ryan O'Hara to stamp his mark on the match by bundling his way over the line from two metres, Schifcofske taking his points tally to 12 with the conversion.

It was a brighter Salford side at the start of the second half and they were only denied a clear run to the try line by a last ditch Martin tackle on Jodie Broughton.

Despite more Salford possession Crusaders looked the more likely to trouble the scorers, Youngquest coming close to his hat-trick before Hauraki capped a superb performance with a try – his eighth in nine matches.

Schifcofske scoring the conversion.

Worse was to follow for the away side as Crusaders scored a breakaway eighth try, Schifcofske was judged to have dropped the ball backwards before releasing Youngquest, who ran clear to grab his third score.

The creator then bagged the two extra points before scoring his second try of the afternoon and taking his points haul to 22 with the conversion.

Everything Crusaders were touching turned to gold and a Sammut grubber saw Martin outrun a tired Salford defence to dot down, Schifcofske striking the upright with his kick to leave the score 54-6.

There was another maximum for Crusaders as Frank Winterstein added his name to an ever growing list of try scorers. Schifcofske taking the home total to 60 with the conversion.

Jeremy Smith had obviously had enough of the humiliation and talked referee Ben Thaler into handing him a red card with nine minutes remaining.

Despite their numerical disadvantage Salford were to get a second try through Ray Cashmere with Matty Smith bagging the extras.

And the afternoon finished on a positive note for McRae's side as they crossed for a third try through Fitzpatrick, but the day belonged to the hosts.

Crusaders: Schifcofske, Dyer, Martin, Chan, Youngquest, Sammut, Hanbury, Bryant, Withers, Peek, Winterstein, Hauraki, Lupton.

Replacements: Lee, James, O'Hara, Trimarchi.

Salford City Reds: Fitzpatrick, Broughton, Henry, Talau, Gibson, Ratchford, M Smith, Cashmere, Alker, Boyle, Littler, Adamson, Swain.

Replacements: Sidlow, Parker, J Smith, Neal.

Referee: Ben Thaler.

Attendance: 2,412.

Match Rating: ****

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