It was semi-final heartbreak for MK Wolves as they came up short against reigning champions North Hertfordshire Crusaders.
After last week’s 71-4 crushing of Kings Lynn, Wolves were delighted to even be involved in the end of season play-offs, finishing the season in fourth spot.
Reigning champions, cup winners and league leaders Crusaders didn’t only have home advantage, but had been unbeaten all year long. Furthermore, MK were missing some key players from the previous week’s win against Kings Lynn.
Nevertheless, the underdogs were keen to give good account of themselves and if this was to be the end of the season, they were determined to go out with their heads held high. And, having taken some big scalps already this season, an upset could always be on the cards.
However, MK suffered an early blow when, shortly after kick-off, 2nd Row Dan Moon-Matten took a nasty blow to the knee that would sideline him for the game. With Dan down and out, Crusaders ran in to score the opening try of the match.
MK then played well with ball-in-hand, putting pressure on the Crusaders’ defence, but could not break through. A simple spill resulted in North Herts gathering, and racing away for their 2nd try of the game.
Still, at 10-0, the game was by no means up and MK continued to assert pressure, but were repeatedly repelled by some fierce Crusaders defence that had only conceded little over 100 points all season.
MK then lost another influential player when centre Charlie Manning took a stud to the Achilles, and Crusaders raced away to score twice more.
Stuart Tomkinson capitalised on some great work from the Wolves and crashed over the line for MK with a true forward’s try, which Scott Aspinall converted.
Crusaders then slipped another MK tackle to score under the posts which brought the half-time score to 26-6.
Tiredness and frustration on the part of MK led to repeated scores from North Herts, and prolific try scorer and on-field motivator Oli Fountain’s frustrations boiled over, leading him to spend 10 minutes on the sidelines for verbalising his frustrations within earshot of the referee.
While many of the Crusaders’ first-half tries had come from breakthroughs and slipped tackles, in the second half with a 10-minute extra man advantage and with exhausted MK players being forced to play out of position, Crusaders could spread the ball with impunity, and did so to devastating effect.
With the luxury of resting and rotating players, Crusaders ran in an unanswered 38 points in the second half, and the game was brought to a close with the final score 64-6.
In just their second season though, Wolves can be proud of their achievements this campaign.