Doncaster 20 North Wales 12: Crooks helps Dons to hard fought win

Doncaster RLFC v North Wales Crusaders.  Ben Crooks charges the Crusaders line.   Picture: Malcolm Billingham
Doncaster RLFC v North Wales Crusaders. Ben Crooks charges the Crusaders line. Picture: Malcolm Billingham

One of Super League’s rising stars helped Doncaster to a hard-fought win over Clive Griffiths’ North Wales Crusaders.

Highly-rated Hull FC centre Ben Crooks - voted Super League’s Young Player of the Year last year - made his mark on a niggly contest with two tries and an assist to see off a plucky Crusaders outfit.

Griffiths, who is on the verge of guiding Doncaster Knights back to the Championship, watched his other side deliver a spirited, gutsy display at a sun-soaked Keepmoat Stadium.

But the Welsh side could not contain the highly-rated Crooks, whose class proved to be the difference between the sides on the day.

Crooks came the closest to breaking the deadlock during a defence-dominated first half when he latched onto player coach Paul Cooke’s pass before being held up on the line.

Dons had spent large spells of the half camped in the visitors’ half but had to wait until the 37th minute for their opening score.

The ball was shifted right for Nev Morrison to ground in the corner and Stewart Sanderson added the extras for a 6-0 half time lead.

Dons extended their advantage four minutes into the second half, an excellent break from Crooks allowed Waterman to crash over, although Sanderson failed to convert.

From a penalty, Crusaders’ David Mills barged his way over the line and Tommy Johnson converted to send a timely reminder to the Dons that they were still in the game - and keep a closely-fought contest firmly in the balance.

Crooks then got his name on the trysheet and Sanderson added the extras, but Gary Middlehurst’s converted score at the other end continued to keep the Crusaders interested.

However, the excellent Crooks had the final say when he latched onto Waterman’s grubber kick to register his second try, and secure Dons’ fifth win out of seven in the Championship.

Dons: Scott, Morrison, Crooks, Arundel, Sanderson, Cooke, Wilkinson, Spiers, Wildie, Pitts, Kent, Starling, Emmett. Subs: Robinson, Castle, Waterman, Edwards.

Crusaders: Johnson, Clay, Reardon, Roets, Massam, Dallimore, White, Walker, Ashall, Offerdahl, Middlehurst, Smith, Wild. Subs: Stephens, Mills, Reid, Ashall.

Attendance: 574