Match report by Ryan Gould
Toronto Wolfpack racked up a staggering 60 first-half points as they outclassed North Wales Crusaders to record their biggest winning margin in their history to date.
When the Wolfpack play their first match on home soil in early May, they will be in their element with temperatures edging towards 20 degrees Centigrade and that will no doubt suit their attractive, expansive style of Rugby League.
However, they showed that they can adapt to conditions that perhaps don’t suit them as well; in the North Wales drizzle, they were averaging one and a half points per minute by half-time.
For their League 1 rivals it must be worrying to think that they can turn on the style whatever the weather, and it’s puzzling to think that by far their most difficult game so far this season was their Challenge Cup tie against the amateurs of the Siddal club, when the conditions introduced an element of mud wrestling into the game.
At half-time on Friday many people would have had their money on Toronto passing the century mark but, to Crusaders’ credit, they stuck at it and their second-half performance was highly commendable.
The Wolfpack got off to the best possible start as they went over for five tries within the first 15 minutes.
First, Craig Hall made the most of a dropped ball to score under the sticks, before a kick bobbled up for Gary Wheeler to walk in for a try.
A Blake Wallace effort and further tries for Wheeler and Hall – all from close range – followed as Toronto established a 30-0 lead.
The hosts very nearly responded, but Simon Atherton’s offload near the line was thrown forward after Crusaders had broken the line down the right wing.
Adam Sidlow then forced his way over after attacking the left edge, before interchange Rhys Jacks darted over from close range.
North Wales had another short spell of possession, but Toronto soon turned defence into attack as Quentin Togag’e broke down the wing and found Hall in support.
With the half-time hooter fast approaching, the Wolfpack added a further two scores, as Fuifui Moimoi bulldozed his way over and Liam Kay finished a nice move in the left corner.
Togag’e went over for two close range scores, set up by the impressive Gary Wheeler, within six minutes of the restart and, from there, you had to feel sorry for the Welshmen and wonder how many points Toronto were going to score.
However, aided by the wet conditions, Mike Grady’s men managed to turn the match into more of an arm-wrestle and, despite Toronto’s heavy possession, the home side kept their opponents to minimal opportunities in the final half-an-hour.
North Wales thought they were over at one point through Callum Mulkeen, but referee Brandon Robinson ruled a knock-on in the corner. Television replays, though, show that it should have been given.
As the game began to draw to a close, the Wolfpack added two further tries to reach the 80-point mark to rub salt into the wound.
Craig Hall squeezed over in the left corner after they had shifted the ball from right to left, before Greg Worthington got in on the act with a similar effort.
It was another triumph for Wolfpack captain Hall, whose three tries and twelve goals netted him 36 of the Wolfpack’s 80 points.
GAMESTAR: Gary Wheeler’s performance was pure class. As well as grabbing two tries, he managed the game excellently from the halves and set up a number of four-pointers.
GAMEBREAKER: After 14 minutes, Toronto found themselves 30-0 up. At that point, they already had the game in the bag.
North Wales Crusaders
1 Tommy Johnson
2 Corey Lee
11 Alex Thompson
28 Callum Mulkeen
5 Dale Bloomfield
26 Jack Hansen
7 Ryan Smith
10 Alex Davidson
14 James Dandy
15 John Cookson
24 Jack Houghton
3 Simon Atherton
16 Luke Warburton
Subs (all used)
27 Aaron Moore
23 Jack Francis
31 Blake Turner
13 Ryan Millington
1 Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e
15 Ryan Burroughs
3 Greg Worthington
4 Craig Hall
5 Liam Kay
14 Gary Wheeler
6 Blake Wallace
21 Adam Sidlow
24 Sean Penkywicz
25 Ryan Bailey
17 Richard Whiting
12 James Laithwaite
13 Jack Bussey
Subs (all used)
6 Fuifui Moimoi
10 Dan Fleming
7 Rhys Jacks
19 Steve Crossley
Tries: Hall (4, 31, 69), Wheeler (6, 11), Wallace (9), Penkywicz (14), Sidlow (23), Jacks (27), Moimoi (39), Kay (40), Togag’e (44, 46), Worthington (76)
Goals: Hall (12/14)
Rugby Leaguer & League Express Men of the Match
Crusaders: Aaron Moore
Toronto: Gary Wheeler
Penalty count: 6-10
Referee: Brandon Robinson
SCORING SEQUENCE: 0-6, 0-12, 0-18, 0-24, 0-30, 0-36, 0-42, 0-48, 0-54, 0-60; 0-64, 0-70, 0-76, 0-80
Air Transat 3 Stars
Images From The Match
This match report has been presented in association with the English weekly newspaper League Express.