TALK about peaking at just the right time!

That’s been the case for the North Wales Crusaders, who are looking forward to a grand day out on Sunday - and player-coach Carl Forster is looking for his players to complete a “whirlwind” year on a high.

Following a tricky and testing campaign, Forster’s charges have brilliantly battled their way through to the grand final of the League 1 play-offs.

Doncaster will be their hosts for the showpiece occasion and Forster told CruCast: “It’s crazy, isn’t it?

“Obviously, the Cornwall (game) was six games ago, but obviously that kind of proved to be a turning point for us.

“It’s been a whirlwind of a year, but we’ve not done it quite yet.

“Touch wood we’ll finish the job on Sunday.”

Entering the play-offs as the lowest ranked of the five clubs competing, Crusaders have blazed a trail via stunning successes away to Workington Town, Oldham and Hunslet.

The latest of these came last Sunday at the South Leeds Stadium, where Crusaders finished on the front foot versus league runners-up Hunslet, with Owain Abel’s drop goal and Cole Oakley’s dramatic try putting the gloss on a 25-18 triumph.

For the third play-off contest in a row, Crusaders won the second half and Forster has put this down to the players’ much improved fitness.

“To be honest, I thought fitness was our issue,” stressed Forster.

“You know, I think we were hanging in games for 60, 70 minutes at the beginning part of the year and then we were falling off and I wasn’t quite happy with that and I put a lot of responsibility on the players.

“Obviously we only train twice a week... what you want to do is concentrate on the rugby side of things, so the lads should be doing the fitness in their own time and I did question them on things when things weren’t going pretty well and obviously I take responsibility with my own fitness.

“I just think a lot of lads have took it upon themselves to be better, be fitter and obviously we’ve got a full fit team now and some of our lads are still fresh.

“They’ve only played six, seven, eight games this season, where obviously you could be going up against lads who (are) in the 21st, 22nd game this year.

“So, I think we just peaked at the right time, but I do believe our fitness levels - after some serious conversations at the start of the season and midway through the season - they have drastically improved.”

The strength of Crusaders’ bench is another feature and Forster added: “I think our inter-changes help as well.

“The fact that we’ve got Callum Hazzard, who’s obviously our captain, on the bench, which you don’t see very often.

“But Callum can come on and finish the game and obviously me and Chris Barratt, for big lads we do big minutes and we go into the last 20 minutes of the game with three subs left.”