North Shields Crusaders crowned league champions

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North Shields Crusaders have been officially confirmed as the winners of the Northumberland River Derwent League.

The league featured other local sides Whitley Bay Rockcliff Rangers, Seghill Deputies, Novos Centurians and Newcastle Ravens as well as four Durham sides.

The Crusaders last won the title two years ago as part of the club’s 90th anniversary season when they lifted the county league and cup double.

This season they topped the table on 29 points ahead of nearest rivals Rockcliff Rangers on 25 and the Newcastle Ravens on 23.

The Ravens were top before the Crusaders’ final win of the season at home to the Ravens saw them run out convincing 51-5 winners to all but secure the title.

The Crusaders were helped to the title through some excellent individual player performances.

Top try scorer was Richard Sampson on nine closely followed by Bruce Parker and Ben Cross, who both crossed over seven times.

The top points scorer was Matthew Padden who finished with 62 points.

At the end of season awards, Crusaders player of the season was Jack Rendles while Peter Dyers picked up second team players’ player. Hooker Alan Millar, who played all but one match, won most improved player.

Next season the Crusaders will likely ply their trade in the Coquet League following a restructure of the county leagues.