Newcastle Thunder have made a solid start to the season but crashed out of the cup last week.

Newcastle Thunder return to league action on Sunday as they look to exact revenge on North Wales Crusaders, who knocked the North East club out of the League 1 Cup last weekend.

The Thunder have won all three of their opening league matches this term and are fourth in the table while North Wales have had a rocky start, with one win to their name as they sit 13th.

The tables were turned in the cup though as Crusaders travelled to Kingston Park and beat Thunder 24-16. Newcastle were in a good position at half-time with a 10-4 lead thanks to a brace from Derrell Olpherts while Corey Lee notched North Wales’ only try.

Unfortunately for Mick Mantelli’s men, things changed rather drastically in a short space of time as Jack Houghton crossed twice in seven minutes to turn the game on its head. Danny Nicklas levelled matters soon after but a penalty from Tommy Johnson regained the visitors lead before the full-back sealed the win for North Wales with a try eight minutes from time.

It was a disappointing afternoon for Newcastle and people can’t say it wasn’t coming. They had a fair few warning signs in past matches. They’ve been far from their best but have been managing to scrape home, though it wasn’t to be on this occasion. There needs to be improvement ahead of a tough league schedule and Thunder’s cause isn’t helped by the two-game suspension of Derrell Olpherts. The utility back is a key part of Newcastle’s setup and his absence means other players will have to step up.

Meanwhile, North Wales will be thrilled to be one step closer to Blackpool but they have to focus on the league and make sure complacency doesn’t get the better of them. Jack Houghton and Tommy Johnson both performed brilliantly in the second half last weekend and coach Mike Grady will undoubtedly be asking for more of the same.

In a competitive division like League 1, every game is vital and especially for those who are floundering in the bottom half. North Wales are one of those sides despite having a good squad of players that can challenge the majority of teams this season. Another victory over Newcastle, this time in the league, could spark a good run as they look to make amends for a slow start to the campaign