North Wales' new Super League club achieved the best result of their short history by inflicting a first defeat of the season on Hull yesterday. The cultured kicking game of Michael Witt, the finishing of Nick Youngquest and the remorseless tackling of all 17 players were the key features of Crusaders' second win in four games – more than most people expected from them all season.
Hull, playing for the first time without their kingpin, Sean Long, who has a hamstring injury, were made to look decidedly ordinary.
Crusaders took the lead when Tommy Lee punished the club that let him go this winter by providing the kick that led to Youngquest's first try, but Elliot Kear was penalised straight from the kick-off for playing the ball from the wrong spot and Hull immediately scored through Lee Radford.
Hull carried that momentum into their next set of tackles and took the lead through Tom Briscoe's try in the corner. This was a test for Crusaders' self-belief, but they were level on 26 minutes when the excellent Witt exploited a hesitation in the Hull defence and went over the line for a try to go with his three conversions.
Although Hull had Epalahame Lauaki placed on report for leading with his elbow, they nevertheless managed to get their noses briefly in front when Kirk Yeaman dived on to a kick from Hull's best player, Jordan Tansey.
But there was no conviction about them and, 12 minutes from time, they got what they deserved when Witt launched a bomb, Youngquest again made the catch and Witt put over the crucial conversion from the touchline.
There was still plenty of defending to be done, but Crusaders had more than shown their willingness in that department.
"It was a fabulous effort," said Brian Noble, the coach who has whipped them into shape with such remarkable speed. "But we are keeping our feet firmly on the ground."
Crusaders: Kear; Youngquest, Dyer, Mellars, Raynor; Lee, Witt; O'Hara, Withers, Bryant, Hauraki, Chan, Trimarchi. Substitutes used: Thackray, Peek, Winterstein, Lupton.
Hull: Tansey; Hall, Whiting, Yeaman, Briscoe; Washbrook, Horne; O'Meley, Berrigan, Radford, Burnett, Manu, Fitzgibbon. Substitutes used: Dowes, Cusack, Lauaki, Haughton.
Referee: I Smith (Oldham).