CARL FORSTER was focusing on the positives after North Wales Crusaders opened their campaign with a defeat.

League One outfit Crusaders lost out 40-12 in their home 1895 Cup showdown with Championship side Swinton Lions, but the North Wales side showed their battling qualities.

Playing for almost 50 minutes a man down, with Jono Smith being sent off after half-an-hour, Crusaders managed to grab a pair of second half tries.

Reflecting on the first half, which ended with Swinton 24-0 to the good, Cru head coach Forster told the club’s Facebook page: “A real difficult one.

“Obviously, myself and Jono (Smith), two of the most experienced in the group, do something we shouldn’t do.

“The referee probably got that one right in respect to what he did get right today and we find ourselves 11 men, but I said to the lads, take a lot of positives in terms of they weren’t breaking us down like mad shape.

“It was more just little areas that we can easily tidy up.

“So, it wasn’t a huge concern. We were going into the wind, which was a real struggle to be fair, getting out of your own half and, obviously, kicking the ball after that.

“So, we knew at half-time that, you know, the flip side, the wind etc would go in our own favour, but obviously being down to 12 men, you can’t really take advantage as much as you’d like.”

Despite being a man down, Crusaders ended the tie in bright fashion and they scored two tries in the closing quarter-of-an-hour.

The returning Pat Ah Van grabbed his side’s opening try in the 66th minute, with Owain Abel adding the extras.

The final word also belonged to Crusaders, with Ben Evans scoring his side’s second try and Abel converted.

There is still plenty for Crusaders to work on and Forster added: “It was just real tough, but we showed that, get to the right points, I just thought we could have ended our sets a lot better.

“We spoke all week about just making it difficult for them, put them in corners.

“Make them go 95 metres to get to our try-line and I just thought we probably just chased the scoreboard, chased the game and we said since early December we will treat these games as friendlies.

“So, there’s certainly no back-up from me in terms of getting into the lads.

“It’s about us learning. Learning and getting things right.”

Swinton Lions can confirm top spot in the group this weekend.

They will play host to fellow Championship side Widnes Vikings on Sunday.

Crusaders will then welcome Widnes to Colwyn Bay for the final group contest on February 18.

North Wales Crusaders will open their League One tilt with a trip south to take on Cornwall on March 24.

The first home league game of the campaign will be against Midlands Hurricanes on March 31.