NORTH WALES CRUSADERS coach Anthony Murray expects a ‘tasty’ derby clash with West Wales Raiders on Saturday.

The Cru travel to Llanelli looking to keep their slim League One play-off hopes alive and buoyed by a 33-16 comeback victory over Coventry Bears last weekend.

Raiders have endured another tough campaign and currently sit bottom of the division after 17 defeats from 18 league games this year.

But Murray, whose side triumphed 70-8 in the reverse fixture at the Queensway Stadium, feels the Stebonheath Park club have made solid progress under coach Kim Williams and cannot be underestimated.

“You look at the league table and see were West Wales are and people think this should be a comfortable game for us,” said Murray.

“But for me I think they’ve made big improvements this season. This league is as tough as it’s ever been this season and without a doubt West Wales have become more competitive.

“They’ve recruited well and picked up a big win at home to Coventry Bears recently. That will have given them confidence and an incentive to pick up more points at home before the end of the season.

“It’s an all-Wales derby game and that always adds a little bit more excitement to this fixture. It’ll be tasty I’m sure, but we have to be fully focused on coming back with the points to try to keep this push for the top six going.”

The Wrexham-based Cru currently sit eighth in the table, five points adrift of Workington Town who occupy the final play-off spot.

With his side holding a game in hand on both Workington and London Skolars, Murray admits Crusaders have no margin for error in their remaining three fixtures.

He added: “We need to be looking to take maximum points from the games we’ve got left to put pressure on those sides above us.

“We want to keep ourselves in contention for as long as possible, but first we’ll need to deliver a big performance tomorrow.

“We have to replicate the intensity and enthusiasm we showed in the second half against Coventry. We tried to force things in the first half last weekend and some of our attacks broke down.

“But we played with more positive momentum after the break and Coventry struggled to deal with us.

“That intensity and will to win has got to be there right from the start against West Wales, so we don’t find ourselves chasing the game as we did last weekend.”

Newly-signed forward James Tilley and Wales international half-back Elliott Jenkins come into contention for the clash, with the likes of Kenny Baker, Earl Hurst, Kenny Hughes and Karl Ashall all sidelined with injury for the visitors.

Pacesetters Whitehaven will look to preserve their place at the summit with a victory at Keighley Cougars on Sunday.

The Cumbrian side are currently two points clear of second-placed Oldham, who entertain fifth-placed Doncaster.

Newcastle Thunder also remain in the hunt for title honours and will pursue their 12th win of the League One season at home to Coventry.