Crusaders rue poor start in ForestSat 23 Feb

By Jon Newcombe

Crusaders were unable to repeat their home victory over Cinderford United back in November as they fell to a 30-14 defeat in the return fixture on Saturday.

The hosts were fastest out of the blocks and took the lead after only five minutes through skipper Pete Towers’ fine solo effort.

Cinderford got their second try of the game – and the only other points of the first half – when, on 30 minutes, right wing Chance Ridler forced his way over in the corner to make it 10-0 at the interval.

Flanker Jake Bonser and Dave McKee crossed for two more unconverted tries to double Cinderford’s tally in the third quarter before Crusaders finally sparked into life.

From a rare spell of pressure in the Cinderford twenty-two, scrum-half Joe Shaw darted over and half-back partner, Steve Goode, supplied the extras.

Crusaders continued to pressurise Cinderford who sensed a comeback could be on the cards. The home side enjoyed some relief, though, when Towers successfully kicked a penalty to put them more than two scores ahead at 23-7.

Towers then went over for his second try and Cinderford’s fifth – this time converted, while Crusaders found themselves reduced to 14 men after Frankie Fenwick- Wilson was handed a yellow card for his part in an ugly fracas.

Injuries to hooker Jack Riley and wing Simon Tunnicliffe also stymied the Crusaders’ efforts to get back into the game, but they had the final word when Goode converted his own try to complete the scoring.

Crusaders coach Richard Gee said: “We didn’t start particularly well, conceding two sloppy tries inside the first thirty minutes; perhaps that could be put down to travelling and the heavy pitch, I don’t know. But the challenge for us as a coaching team is to get them playing from the first whistle, not twenty minutes into a match.”

He added: “It was always going to be difficult to go down there and get a win, and losing a man to a yellow card and two to injury certainly didn’t help. We knew we’d be in for one hell of a battle, and that is pretty much what we got.”

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