NORTH WALES CRUSADERS scored first and last as they opened their preparations for the new season with a testing trip to Championship side Barrow.

It was the Cumbrians who came out on top by a 32-18 margin, but League One Crusaders gave their hosts plenty to worry about.

Cru took the lead in the sixth minute, Matt Unsworth grabbing the first try of the year for the Cru, with Owain Abel nudging over his conversion attempt.

Barrow responded with tries from Ryan Shaw, Tom Wilkinson, James Greenwood and Ryan Johnston, but Crusaders weren’t just there to make up the numbers and they hit back courtesy of Toby Hughes’ try, which was converted by Abel.

Luke Cresford’s score made it 28-12 to Barrow at the interval.

There were fewer scoring opportunities after the break and Crusaders won the second half 6-4.

Johnston dotted down for his second Barrow score, but it was North Wales who finished on a high. Pat Ah Van (pictured right) marked his return to the club with a try out wide and Abel made it three-from-three with his tricky conversion.

Ahead of the match, head coach Carl Forster told the club’s website: “It’s about getting back out there, and giving players opportunities.

“Unfortunately, as it is our only friendly, we will have to play all 25 players and we’ve just got to roll with it.”