Fans in the stands await the start of the match at Kingston Park.

Newcastle Thunder’s League 1 Cup campaign came to an abrupt end on Sunday as North Wales Crusaders triumphed 24-16 at Kingston Park.

Crusaders second-rower Jack Houghton scored twice while Tommy Johnson put in an inspired performance to send the visitors into the semi-final and leave Thunder licking their wounds.

Newcastle had a 10-4 lead at the break and they registered the first try of the contest after seven minutes through Derrell Olpherts, and the conversion from Benn Hardcastle was successful. In response, Corey Lee touched down for the visitors but full-back Tommy Johnson was unable to add the extras.

Olpherts completed his brace two minutes before the interval as Newcastle stretched their lead out to a converted try. Hardcastle was off target with his second conversion attempt of the afternoon.

In the second half, Houghton scored two tries in quick succession to turn the game on its head and hand the initiative to Mike Grady’s side. They weren’t in the lead for long, however, due to Danny Nicklas crossing the whitewash and Hardcastle duly converted.

In the final quarter, Johnson kicked a penalty to edge Crusaders back in front but the killer try came courtesy of the full-back eight minutes from time. His fourth goal of the game made it a two score lead and Newcastle couldn’t find a way to cut into the deficit before the end of the game.

A disappointing result for Thunder, who don’t have long to wait for their chance to right the wrongs against North Wales. This weekend sees Newcastle travel down to Wrexham for a rematch, but this time in League 1 with Mick Mantelli’s men sitting in fourth place while Crusaders are 13th.