NORTH Shields RFC Crusaders travelled to Houghton with a mixed side for a county league match.
Crusaders went into the contest joint top of the table and were hoping to maintain their position.
Houghton are new to the league this season so it was the first time the two sides had met competitively.
It was a hot sunny day with several Shields players playing out of position including the second row partnership of Mark Greenwood and Cameron Pearson.
Paul Walsh led the side at hooker and in the backs Ian Swinbank returned to the side in the full-back position, fresh from a charity coast to coast bike ride in memory of his son Tobi.
The Crusaders stuck to their task well against a well organised side and the game was much closer than the 55-14 score suggests.
The forwards held their own against a big Houghton pack and there were some good runs by the centre partnership of Ricky Handa and Anthony Snale.
But the Crusaders could not hold back the Houghton support play, which led to them winning the game.
The Crusaders were pointless in the first half but scored two well deserved tries in the second period, both by Anthony Snale.
Jack Jeffrey was successful with both conversion attempts.
All the team played well especially Kris May at scrum-half, who was constantly under pressure.
The next league game for the Crusaders is in a fortnight’s time when they face their first derby of the season against Whitley Bay Rockcliff Rangers at Hillheads.