ANTHONY MURRAY has hailed the impact of returning Crusaders trio Andy Moulsdale, Stephen Wild and Stuart Reardon.
Following on from Wild and Moulsdale’s returns to the fold over the past two matches, experienced 34-year-old full-back Reardon was back in Murray’s line-up in the 40-18 victory over Oxford at the weekend.
The victory, the North Wales side’s second in as many games, keeps Crusaders 10th in League One and they are now just one point off a top eight spot, ahead of the 16-team division splitting in two in mid-July.
“It was huge having the three of them back on the field together from the off,” Murray said of the returning tro, as Wild also found his way onto the scoreboard with a second-half try.
“Stu is a really good rugby player and his experience is fantastic. He’s a great guy to have around both on and off the pitch, and he contributed to an improved performance all over.
“In the second-half we’ve given away 12 penalties but have only conceded four points and some of the defensive work on our line was like a Crusaders performance of old. We kept finding the numbers and the experience and tackling of Steve was massive, plus we’ve got Andy’s leadership and organisation which is vital.
“Scott Turner went off with a head injury, got given the all-clear from the doctor, went out there and got himself a late try, that just proves everyone is desperate to stay out there and help the team.
“For the first time in ages I was actually able to make changes that weren’t enforced and we were able to use the interchange to our advantage. Now players are returning to fitness we’re starting to see that we’ve got a strong squad of players still here at Crusaders and it’s good moving forward.”
Murray was delighted with the start his side made in the big win at The Racecourse, going 22-0 ahead inside 25 minutes with tries from Ryan Smith, Kenny Baker and Earl Hurst.
“I was really pleased with the fast start we made, to take a 22-0 lead early on was a massive boost,” added Murray, who must now prepare his side to face York City Knights away on Sunday.
“We then did our typical thing of giving away penalties and allowed Oxford back into the game. Oxford aren’t a bad side at all and they put us under a lot of pressure but I felt we coped well defensively.
“We were then able to stretch away towards the end and to put 40 points on them was a good effort I felt.”
Crusaders remain on the lookout for new investment with the club’s interim board continuing to seek fresh owners to take the Wrexham side forward.
“Things are looking up and if Sunday’s performance and atmosphere can’t attract someone to invest in Crusaders then we’ll be struggling,” Murray added “I say that because it had all the ingredients on Sunday: a decent crowd in a fantastic stadium on a sunny day.
“We can’t ask for more than that and there must be someone out there who sees the potential we see for rugby league in north Wales.”