CARL FORSTER has praised his North Wales Crusaders side for following the game plan during a competitive display against Championship opposition.

Crusaders’ tough run of fixtures versus tier two sides came to an end with Sunday’s 30-14 defeat versus Widnes Vikings in the 1895 Cup.

More than 1,000 spectators were in attendance for the concluding group encounter at Colwyn Bay’s Stadiwm CSM and head coach Forster was happy with his side’s showing.

“To be fair, this week, we had a simple game plan,” he said. “The boys followed it exactly to the point.

“Our middles were great again. Chris Barratt did 65 minutes without coming off. We were outstanding and the boys did what I asked.”

Crusaders, beaten by Championship Swinton Lions and Bradford Bulls over recent weeks, started the tie in quite stunning fashion.

Forster’s side came storming out of the blocks to build-up a 10-point lead in the opening 10 minutes. Just two minutes had elapsed when North Wales took the lead.

Joe Lyons’ kick was charged down and Matt Reid came up with the score.

Things got even better for the Crusaders in the sixth minute. After working the ball down the line, Pat Ah Van was free on the left touchline to dive over for the try and a successful conversion made it 10-0.

Ah Van would score another try in the second period, but Widnes would take the spoils on the day.

In a post on Facebook, the club said: “It’s a strong showing from the lads as they go toe-to-toe with Championship opponents! Thank you to the 1088 who joined us this afternoon, see you on Sunday 31st March when we welcome Midlands Hurricanes to Colwyn Bay!”

Meanwhile, in a post on X, Forster said: “Proud of the efforts today. Progression every game is there. Onto the league campaign.”

Forster has praised Crusaders’ middles for their showings over recent weeks and he added: “That’s not taking anything away from our backs. The middles have the hardest job, but I think it’s the most simple job.

“Ben Evans, Shaun Costello’s stepped up massively, Pat Rainford. That’s a huge strength of ours.

“But if you look at our edges, you would be daft to isolate them. It’s just taking time.”

Crusaders now have a number of weeks away from competitive action as they look to fine-tune things for the start of the League One season.

The club’s league campaign will begin on Sunday, March 24 with a long trek down to Cornwall.

North Wales will be looking to match their success of last season, when they finished an up-and-down campaign on a high by reaching the grand final of the play-offs.