North Wales Crusaders completed a league double over their Welsh rivals after an exhilarating 36-24 win at The Gnoll on Sunday.
It was a game that both teams were capable of winning but in the end it was the experience of the North Wales side that showed through.
South Wales Scorpions fielded five 18-year-olds and another three debutants and the Crusaders’ stability and heads under pressure was enough to take the points.
However the Scorpions did secure a bonus point, their first competition point in five games, for losing by 12 points as the 687 crowd, the home side’s highest in the league in 2012, were thoroughly entertained throughout.
After winning an early penalty, Crusaders nearly took the lead but Adam Clay was beaten to the ball winning a goal-line drop-out.
Following the kick, Jamie Durbin created the first North Wales try after palming off to Andy Gorski and despite a slight suspicion of a forward pass, the score was allowed, Tommy Johnson converting.
The second try came on eight minutes as Leon Brennan slipped past the defence and passed to Jamie Durbin who ran home, Johnson again converting.
Toby Adamson of North Wales Crusaders was then sin-binned for poleaxing Steve Parry after he’d kicked the ball away and from a second penalty, Shaun Owens ran through and scored underneath the sticks, converting his own try.
After forcing a goal-line drop-out, Crusaders went over for their third try – Rob Massam crossing in the corner following a good passing move. The conversion missed.
Clay scored the fourth Crusaders’ try after catching an Andy Moulsdale high bomb to in the opposite corner, Johnson returning to kicking form with the conversion.
Scorpions hit back on 29 minutes with Nathan Mossop squeezing his way through for a typical dummy half try, Owens doing the rest.
They followed that up straight away when Under-18 graduate Thomas Gwyn Morgan slipped through for a score on his debut. Owens goaled again and Scorpions went into half-time just four points down.
Massam looked to have got Crusaders on the board first in the second-half but he was pulled into touch by a gang of anxious Scorpions defenders.
At the other end Owens looked to have scored an excellent individual try but the referee ruled he’d lost the ball when grounding.
Finally, Scorpions broke through when Parry made a 40 metre individual run to ground. Owens converted and Scorpions were in the lead for the first time in the game.
But Crusaders regained the advantage following a penalty when Moulsdale slipped the ball to Liam Hulme who twisted his way under the sticks. Johnson, despite having the easiest of conversions, hit the post.
Jono Smith soon followed him over the try line with Johnson converting this time to give Crusaders an eight point advantage.
And the North Wales side sealed the victory when Clay intercepted a stray pass to run 90 metres and ground for his second. Johnson’s kick was missed so Scorpions were still in bonus point territory.
Parry thought he’d scored a last second consolation but the referee ruled it out for obstruction, just the conclusion of a frustrating afternoon for the South Wales side.
South Wales Scorpions: D James, Jones; Gilbert, K James, Bullock, Owens, Parry, Burke, Mossop, Phillips, Pope, Kell, Bateman. Replacements: Morgan, Parker, Davies, McKeown.
North Wales Crusaders: Johnson, Clay, Roets, Brennan, Massam, Moulsdale, Durbin, Walker, L Hulme, Stephens, Gorski, Adamson, Smith.
Replacements: Griffiths, O Brown, D Hulme, Morrison.
Referee: Clint Sharrad.
See full story in the Leader