Rating each side’s Super League experience: Crusaders

Back in 2008, the Super League decided to expand into Wales, and give a licence to Crusaders.

The news came 10 years after the league rejected applications from Cardiff and Swansea to take the game into Wales.

In their first season, they found life difficult, as they finished bottom of the Super League. They lost their first 12 matches in the new division.

First Super League Win

Their first win came after an impressive 30-24 win against Bradford Bulls at Odsal. Two tries from Luke Dyer, and other efforts from Chris Beasley, David Tanagta-Toa and Lincoln Withers earned the win for Crusaders.

They only won three games all season, but it was their second that grabbed the most headlines. They beat Wigan 22-16 in Bridgend.

Two tries from Peter Lupton, and other efforts from Mark Dalle Cort and Jace Van Dijk sealed an impressive victory for the Crusaders that day.

Controversy

During the 2009 season, the club was embroiled in a visa scandal, which saw six of their Australian players banned from entering the country for 10 years. Van Dijk, Dalle Cort, Tony Duggan, Damien Quinn, Darren Mapp and Josh Hannay

They made a coaching change ahead of the 2010 season, as Brian Noble took over from John Dixon.

That change proved beneficial as they managed to break into the playoffs, just a year after finishing bottom.

Final Day Drama and Playoffs

Jarrod Sammut made his Super League debut with Crusaders. Credit: Richard Long/News Images

After spending the whole year on the outskirts, they broke in on the final day of the season after a 30-24 win over Hull KR.

Tries from Dyer, Rhys Hanbury,  Tony Martin, Ryan O’Hara and Jarrod Sammut sealed the win for the Welsh side.

They went into the playoffs, and faced Huddersfield Giants at the John Smiths Stadium. A Hanbury try and a penalty from Clinton Schifcofske had Crusaders 8-0 up at the break. However, they lost 18-12.

Noble left the club, leaving Iestyn Harris to take charge for the 2011 season.

Relegation and Liquidation

They started the season well, after a 42-12 win over Salford at the Millennium Stadium, part of Super League’s Magic Weekend.

A hat-trick from Michael Witt, two from Stuart Reardon and other efforts from Jason Chan and Rhys Williams earned that win for the Crusaders.

However, Crusaders were deducted four points at the start of the season for entering administration.

It was an uphill task, but ultimately Crusaders couldn’t get off the bottom of the table.

They then announced that they would not be applying for a new licence to stay in the Super League. They went out after a 42-10 defeat against Wigan at the DW Stadium.

The company ended up liquidating, with a new side called North Wales Crusaders entering Championship 1 ahead of the 2012 season.

A year later, they won promotion to the Championship, but ended up coming straight back down.

They remain in League One to this day.

The future

Crusaders started in Bridgend, before moving to Newport and then Wrexham. Credit: Richard Long/News Images

North Wales Crusaders have spent the last few years building their foundation that will secure their future for years to come.

Slowly, they have been building a squad that is starting to compete higher up the table in League One.

Whether or not they can get back to the Super League remains to be seen.

Rating

4/10- had a fantastic season in 2010, but struggled around the visa scandals and administration. Had these have not happened, then maybe they could have been more competitive in the Super League.

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