North Wales comeback in vain as Newcastle lift Shield
Newcastle Thunder held off a spirited fightback to beat North Wales Crusaders 31-26 in the Kingstone Press League 1 Shield final.
Thunder finished seven points clear of North Wales in the table and they appeared to be cruising to victory after tries from Peter Fox (two), Dan Parker and Tom Reudiger opened up a 24-0 lead inside 27 minutes.
Jack Hansen's try gave the Crusaders a lift going into half-time and Rob Massam crossed just after the restart to reduce the deficit further.
Rhys Clarke went over to calm Newcastle nerves but their advantage was trimmed to just four points courtesy of tries from Andrew Oakden, Ryan Smith and Jonny Walker.
Benn Hardcastle's five goals were the difference between the two sides heading into the dying stages and he slotted over a drop goal two minutes from time to secure the Shield for Newcastle.