CARL FORSTER has stressed the need to handle the occasion when North Wales Crusaders embark on a spot of knockout rugby league this weekend.

After making sure of a top-six spot in League 1 following a testing campaign, Crusaders head to Workington Town this Sunday in the opening round of the play-offs.

It’s a winner-takes-all encounter and head coach Forster told CruCast: “I think a lot of this knockout rugby, it’s who handles the occasion better.

“It’s who has the best game management and I’ve got to instil a game plan mainly into our one, six, seven and nine and they’re the core that will move us around the field and as long as I come up with a decent game plan and they follow suit, then we do everything we should do, then there’s no reason why we can’t go and win the game.”

It’s been a terrific effort from the Crusaders to qualify for the play-offs, especially considering they lost their first six matches of the season.

Seven victories from their last 12 matches made sure of a top-six finish in League 1, which was confirmed by Sunday’s 62-20 success at home to London Skolars.

Matt Reid crossed for a hat-trick of tries as Cru played at their Colwyn Bay base for only the second half this season, while Rob Massam marked his final home appearance for the club with a first half try.

Jack Houghton, Toby Hughes, Josh Lynch, Leon Hayes (2) and Dave Gibbons (2) grabbed the remaining tries on a fine day for the Crusaders.

That match was only the second time Crusaders have played at their Stadiwm CSM base in Colwyn Bay all year and Forster has also been reflecting on a testing campaign.

“Obviously, my coaching career’s short compared to some others, especially in our league,” he said.

“So, it’s certainly up there. What I will say, it’s been the toughest year.

“I have been in tough situations at Whitehaven where there was no money and we were weeks away from going bust.

“That was difficult on a different aspect, but this one’s just kind of seemed to be a problem, a big problem week-by-week and we’ve got through it and that’s the main thing.”

In the hotseat at Workington is former Cru coach Anthony Murray and he said: “I’m looking forward to it.

“I have no doubt North Wales will come up and want to do a job. We want to make sure we get through.”

Also in the play-offs this Sunday, Doncaster host Oldham in a qualifying final.