North Wales Crusaders became the first winners of the iPro Sport Trophy with a hard-fought win over a gritty Swinton Lions outfit.

There was little to choose between the sides for much of this close contest but the Crusaders gained the upper hand in the final quarter and struck the crucial blow 15 minutes from the end to take the trophy.

Swinton began the game in positive, fashion testing the Crusaders defence having earned repeat sets but found it difficult to break through. However, they managed to open the scoring after eight minutes when they turned an unpromising position into the first try.

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A loose offload seemed to have brought another attack to a halt but stand-off Ben White grabbed the ball and put in a speculative 30-metre grubber kick to the corner. It looked to be rolling dead but wing Shaun Robinson thought differently and chased hard. He managed to beat the defenders to the ball and touched down before the ball went out of play.

Chris Atkin landed the conversion from the touchline to give his side a 6-0 lead. Atkin then added a penalty but the Lions had to put in some strong defensive work to keep their opponents at bay. Swinton came close to adding to their tally when hooker Andy Ackers was held up over the line.

The Crusaders then struck, sweeping upfield and some sharp passing along the back line put Scott Turner into space down the right. The winger blasted down the touchline and went over in the corner. A fine conversion by Tommy Johnson made it 8-6 but there were no further scores as the players went in for the half-time break.

North Wales came close to taking the lead early in the second half when Elliot Davies was held up over the line but they levelled the scores minutes later with a Johnson penalty. The Crusaders began to exert more and more pressure as the half worse on but were guilty of spilling possession in good attacking positions.

Going into the final quarter, scrum-half Jamie Dalimore broke the deadlock when he spotted a gap in the Swinton defence and raced through to score. Johnson again added the extras for a 14-8 lead and despite some valiant attempts by the Lions, they were unable to crack a solid North Wales defence. The Crusaders lifted the trophy with Dalimore named Man of the Match.


North Wales: T Johnson; S Turner, M Reid, A Thompson, R Massam; K Ashall, J Dalimore; J Burke, C Wright, J Walker, J Smith, S Wild, G Middlehurst. Interchange: L Hudson, M Hobson, R Duffy, E Davies.

Scorers Tries: Turner, Dalimore. Goals Johnson (3)

Swinton: C Atkin; S Robinson, S Litter, C Rothwell, R Hawkyard; B White, A Lloyd; J James, A Ackers, B Austin, J Barlow, C Dwyer, R Lever. Interchange M Morrison, D Hawkyard, M Gardner, M Govin.

Scorers Try: Robinson Goals: Atkin (2)

Referee: M Woodhead