COLE OAKLEY’S stunning late try sealed a superb 25-18 success for North Wales Crusaders in their play-off victory at League 1 runners-up Hunslet.

Oakley’s effort with three minutes to go, converted by Owain Abel, sealed the deal for Carl Forster’s Cru, who will go to Doncaster next Sunday for a huge play-off final.

Crusaders couldn’t have wished for a better start to the crucial clash and they took the lead inside the opening minute.

Experienced campaigner Rob Massam grabbed the opening score, with Toby Hughes nudging over the extras.

Within five minutes, Hunslet were back on level terms. Capitalising on Cru errors, Jimmy Watson secured the score and Matthew Beharrell converted.

Back came the Crusaders and a successful penalty from Hughes regained the lead in the ninth minute and the visitors increased their advantage after a quarter-of-an-hour as Matt Reid capitalised on great work from Jack Houghton and Abel to touch down.

However, a classic was developing, and things were tied up once again on 25 minutes with Alfie Goddard crossing in the corner for Hunslet and Beharrell was on the money with the conversion.

In the last minute of the half, Crusaders won a penalty and Hughes’ successful kick gave the visitors a 14-12 lead at the interval.

Cru fell behind for the first time when Adam Ryder scored a 56th minute try, converted by Beharrell.

However, Kieran Taylor’s unconverted try made it 18-18 with a dozen minutes left.

Abel nudged Crusaders a point clear with a drop goal five minutes from time and then it was Oakley’s turn to take centre stage.

And key man Hughes has revealed he is loving his time at the North Wales Crusaders since making the switch from Warrington.

Hughes was the last gasp hero with his drop goal in last week’s 13-12 play-off success over Oldham and he told the club’s website before yesterday’s match: “I’m really enjoying it.

“Straight from the get-go since speaking to Carl (Forster) at the start, you know, I thought it was the next step for me and I thought it felt right, so it’s been a really good four games.”

Crusaders have embraced the tag of underdogs throughout their run in the play-offs and Hughes added: “I think we’re used to it now.

“As soon as I came in, we had Doncaster first game and, you know, the chance of making the play-offs was probably quite slim in other people’s eyes, but I think the belief we’ve got in this group after that game is growing each week.

“We know with our game plan, if we stick to it, every week we get tougher to beat and the belief grows.”

London Skolars have announced their resignation from Betfred League One with immediate effect.

Skolars lost all 18 games of the season which concluded last weekend, and intend to submit an application to join the amateur Southern Conference League.

Skolars are the second club to leave rugby league’s semi-professional level in as many years, following the resignation of West Wales Raiders from League One in 2022.

Abbas Miski scored five of Wigan’s 10 tries as they moved a step closer to winning the Super League title with a 48-6 thrashing of Castleford.

Last season’s champions St Helens maintained their push for the 2023 League Leaders’ Shield with a hard-earned 18-6 victory at Warrington.

Catalans Dragons charged back into the top two with a 61-0 humiliation of woeful Leeds in Perpignan.

Wakefield went down fighting at Leigh where Gareth O’Brien’s dramatic golden point drop goal signalled a heartbreaking end to their 24-year-stay in the top flight as they lost 20-19.

Other results: Hull 20 Huddersfield 52; Hull KR 12 Salford 0.