LIFE doesn’t get any easier for the North Wales Crusaders!

Championship opponents are becoming regular features in the early portion of the year and this continues for the Crusaders with Sunday’s home clash versus Widnes Vikings in the 1895 Cup.

Cru go into the game following a heartening display in last weekend’s 48-2 Challenge Cup defeat at Bradford Bulls.

This followed a 40-12 loss to Swinton Lions in the 1895 Cup and Crusaders have also played Barrow in a pre-season encounter.

Reflecting on the development of his players so far this year, Crusaders’ head coach Carl Forster said: “For me, we put a good period in at Barrow. It was the same against Swinton in the second half.

“We are just looking for that again. We know it is going to be a tough afternoon.

“It doesn’t get any easier! We will probably make a couple of changes and go from there. As long as we’re improving come Cornwall.”

Forster felt the final scoreline at Bradford was an unfair one for his side and he said: “Our middle unit were outstanding. They stood up to a massive Bradford pack.”

Crusaders won’t come up against an intensity often this season like the one the Bulls displayed in the cup tie.

Forster told the club’s Facebook page: “I don’t think we’ve faced line speed and inside pressure like we have done (on Sunday). I thought they were outstanding from minute one to 80, to be fair.

“I thought they were really good at that, but... I think we bombed two tries.

“On another day, them tries go in, but I thought we ended our sets quite well.

“We put them in corners. What I don’t think people appreciate is how hard it is to actually play on that field. It feels that small.

“I’ve just been speaking to their coaching staff there, they perfect it, they’re used to it.

“You try and throw shape and the pitch isn’t as wide as what every other pitch is, and we had to adapt to that and I thought we adapted quite well.

“We got a couple of reverse kicks in, got repeat sets. I thought, overall, we did well.”

Second place in Group Six is up for grabs for the winners of Sunday’s encounter in Colwyn Bay.

Swinton Lions are assured top spot after they secured back-to-back triumphs against the Crusaders and Widnes.

One concerning aspect is that the Crusaders will have a break of over a month between Sunday’s tie and their first League One contest of the campaign.

This will come away to Cornwall on Sunday, March 24.

“I appreciate the pre-season schedule’s pretty awful” added Forster. “We will look to do behind closed doors with other teams. But, at the end of the day, you can’t replicate the game.”

Sunday’s other ties: Workington Town v Whitehaven; Keighley Cougars v Bradford Bulls; Newcastle Thunder v Wakefield Trinity; Oldham v Rochdale Hornets; Hunslet v Batley Bulldogs; Midlands Hurricanes v Sheffield Eagles.