CARL FORSTER was full of praise for his side’s efforts as North Wales Crusaders returned from their three-week break with a competitive showing against one of League One’s leading lights.

Keighley Cougars are up there in a big battle for the league title, but they had to come from behind to claim a 30-10 success versus Crusaders at Colwyn Bay’s Stadiwm CSM.

North Wales head coach Forster stressed: “We were really good.

“Unfortunately for us, the 30-10 scoreline looks convincing, but it was far from that. I’m really proud of the effort.

“We went toe-to-toe with one of the big hitters of the league and we came away with a great deal of confidence.”

Crusaders could not have wished for a better start and they claimed the lead after six minutes.

Matt Reid, back in the line-up after a spell out through injury, claimed the touch-down after good work from Toby Hughes.

Dan Coates was unable to add the extras and Keighley, second in the league standings, hit back to get themselves in front via tries by Brandon Pickersgill and Billy Walkley, both of which were converted by Jack Miller.

Crusaders were by no means out of the contest and they hauled themselves back to within two points of their visitors when Kieran Taylor grabbed a try and Coates converted.

Cougars finished the afternoon on a high with a further three tries.

Oscar Thomas, Walkley and a length-of-the-field effort from George Flanagan completed Keighley’s seventh win in eight matches this season.

This was a fourth defeat in a row for the Crusaders, who remain seventh in the League One standings, and they were without Jack Holmes due to a head injury assessment (HIA).

“We lost Owain Abel to injury and had to bring a new full back in,” added Forster.

“It feels sometimes you’re starting from scratch every week.

“We start games really well and to be fair on Sunday, it wasn’t just the start, it was a great 50, 55 minutes.”

While try-scorer Reid made his return to action, so too did Ben Evans and they are sure to be crucial figures for the side as the season develops.

Next up for North Wales is a crucial trip to fifth-placed Midlands Hurricanes on Sunday, while Crusaders then play host to undefeated leaders Oldham on June 2 prior to another week away from action.

Looking ahead to this weekend’s action, Forster added: “They are in a similar spot to us.

“They’ve had very similar results to us and they will be looking at us for a win and we’ll be looking at them for a win.”

It remains tight at this point of the season and Crusaders are just two points away from the top-six, while they have games in hand over the majority of the sides above them.