NORTH WALES CRUSADERS players were angered by a controversial last-minute refereeing decision in their 19-18 home defeat to Hunslet.

With their evenly-contested League One clash level at 18-18 in the dying stages, a Hunslet drop-goal was erroneously adjudged to have cleared the posts.

Video replays appeared to show that the ball had in fact dropped well short of the posts, but the decision to award the vital point stood.

Cru centre Alex Thompson took to social media post-match to vent his frustration, tweeting: “Underneath by about a metre. Worst decision I have ever been involved with since I played.”

After a closely-fought opening, Hunslet took a 16th minute lead when Joe Sanderson gathered a high kick to the corner and crossed the try line for a converted score.

The Cru were soon level when Ryan Smith sent Warren Thompson crashing through, before Tommy Johnson kicked the extras. Parity was shortlived though as in-form Hunslet re-established a six-point lead when Joe Sanderson collected a grubber kick and crossed to make it 12-6.

But the Cru benefited from some good fortune eight minutes before the interval when Smith’s grubber kick rebounded off the post protector and into Brad Walker’s hands who grounded it, before Johnson converted.

Despite the rising temperatures, both sides continued to contest a tight affair after the break. Three minutes into the second-half the Crusaders defence was called upon as they held Hunslet up over the line.

Moments later Hunslet took an opportunity to take the lead for a third time as Sanderson converted a penalty to give his side a 14-12 advantage.The Cru continued to match their opponents and just minutes later Johnson levelled the scores at 14-all with a penalty.

As the game entered the final 20 minutes, Hunslet crossed once again. A high kick to the corner from Cain Southernwood found Ashton who ran the ball over the whitewash.

Having dealt with sustained pressure from the visitors, Crusaders drew level with nine minutes remaining as Dale Bloomfield leapt to gather a high kick before beating Hunslet’s defenders to the line. But late drama followed as Hunslet’s contentious 78th minute kick earned them a seventh successive win.

In better news for the Cru, back row Kenny Baker has signed a new deal with the club keeping him at the Welsh outfit until the end of the 2019 season. Baker arrived in Wrexham in 2016 from amateur side Ince Rose Bridge in 2016.

Signed in head coach Anthony Murray’s first spell with the club, Baker has established himself as a key player for the Cru.

His continued impressive performances this season have seen him pick up numerous man of the match awards and firmly cement himself as a first-team regular playing in a variety of positions.

The new deal sees Baker extend his stay at the club until the end of the 2019 season.

Speaking about his decision Baker said: “I would like to thank the club for giving me another opportunity playing for the Crusaders next season.

“I have really enjoyed my time at the club hence the reason I have signed a new deal.

“I feel that since Anthony Murray has taken over, my game has only improved in such a short space of time, so with a good pre-season under my belt and with the coaching staff we have, I think next season we could compete for top six finish – which is were I think the club belongs.”

North Wales Crusaders head coach Anthony Murray added: “I’m really pleased that Kenny has chosen to commit his future to the club and stay at North Wales Crusaders.

“I’m delighted to have seen his progress since he arrived and he’s been one of the stand out performers this season.

“There’ll have been other clubs looking at him for next year, and better offers for him so I’m delighted to see that he’s shown loyalty to the club and that’s the type of player I want at Crusaders.

“We’re building for next year already, and over the next few weeks there will be more news to come.”

North Wales Crusaders CEO Andy Moulsdale said: “We’re planning for the future and part of that involves our playing squad which we’re trying to address early on.

“Kenny has been one of the most consistent players this year, even when playing out of position.

“He has a great attitude and will keep improving.