Crusaders produce grandstand finish to pip Holt 28-24 in exciting encounter

North Walsham attempt to make some headway on a tough afternoon at Old Haberdashers. Picture: Hywel

North Walsham attempt to make some headway on a tough afternoon at Old Haberdashers. Picture: Hywel Jones - Credit: Archant

Crusaders produced a late surge to seal victory in an entertaining derby match at Little Melton, with a converted try and a penalty in the dying minutes seeing them edge home by four points.

The muddy conditions suited Crusaders' large pack and their direct and robust tactics which Holt found difficult to counter.

This was the visitors' first league game in six weeks due to walk-overs and cancellations, which, no doubt, was a major factor in their inability to settle into any consistent rhythm. Also, they did not help themselves by conceding many penalties and being given two yellow cards.

Crusaders enjoyed most of the possession in the first half, and quickly demonstrated that they were determined to make amends for their heavy defeat at Holt earlier in the season.

The hosts were first to score after 10 minutes, with a penalty by Rob Loone. Holt responded when Tom Jackson collected a Crusaders kick, making 25 metres to put away Arron Tagg who touched-down and converted.

Gregg Thurston then touched-down for Crusaders to give them an 8-7 lead.

The Holt three-quarters made every effort in the difficult conditions to make good use of their limited possession. The visitors regained the lead when Jackson scored after supporting a strong break by Holt's speedy winger Ollie Woodrow.

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Holt turned around 12-8 in the lead and started the second half strongly. A 25 metre driving maul by their pack forced Robbie Gray over the line for a try which was converted by Tagg, making the score 8-17.

Crusaders again started to dominate the forward play and clawed their way back with a penalty by Loone and a try by Alex Widdrington converted by the ever-reliable Loone. The score was now 18-17.

Holt's three quarters seized another limited opportunity with a long floating pass to Jackson for a try converted by Tagg. This put the visitors 24-18 ahead with the clock running down but Crusaders kept pressing and were rewarded with a try by Harris converted by Loone who added another penalty in injury time to complete the scoring.

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