IT was always going to be a tough task for North Wales Crusaders away to higher league opposition.

However, Carl Forster’s side did have their moments before slipping to a 48-2 loss against Championship Bradford Bulls.

The game marked a return to Bradford for Welsh international Ben Evans who previously had two spells with the club.

Crusaders made a bright start to proceedings at the Odsal Stadium, giving as good as they got against their hosts, Challenge Cup winners on five occasions.

The visitors did cross the line after six minutes, but the referee deemed the ball had been held up, while the Bulls spilled the ball when they went close to the first try.

The first points went the way of the Crusaders in the 16th minute when Owain Abel slotted over a penalty.

However, Bradford managed to turn things around and they went into the break holding an 18-2 advantage.

They took the lead when Eribe Doro burst through for the opening try in the 22nd minute.

Jordan Lilley added the extras, before Joe Arundel made the most of a gap for his side’s second try after half-an-hour.

This was once more converted by Lilley, who also added the extras to Aidan McGowan’s try two minutes shy of half-time.

There was a promising opening to the second half from the Crusaders, looking for a try to keep themselves well in the contest.

Forster’s side were able to force Bradford into a drop-out and after some pressure deep in opposition territory, Crusaders turned the ball over just a couple of metres from the Bulls’ line.

A yellow card then followed for the North Wales side and Bradford soon make the numerical advantage count with their fourth try of the afternoon.

Keven Appo was the next Bradford player to etch his name on the scoresheet and Lilley was on the money with his conversion attempt.

Only a superb tackle from John Davies halted the Crusaders when it was their turn to go on the attack, while a fifth Bradford try arrived with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining.

Chester Butler was put through a gap to score and Lilley’s perfect record with conversions continued.

This made it 30-2 at this stage and another try would soon go the way of the charging Bulls.

George Flanagan became the day’s sixth different try-scorer and, of course, Lilley added the extras.

Try number seven came with seven minutes left to play.

Lilley delivered a grubber kick and Kieran Gill was able to pounce for the try, with Lilley again converting.

Flanagan added Bradford’s final try three minutes from time and Lilley made it eight conversions from eight attempts.

Oldham were impressive 22-10 winners at Barrow Raiders while Cornwall, who welcome Crusaders in the North Wales side’s first game of the League One season next month, suffered an 18-10 home defeat to York Acorn.

Sheffield Eagles piled on the points, nailing Newcastle Thunder 88-12, while Workington Town, coached by former Crusaders chief Anthony Murray, were battered 48-18 at Batley Bulldogs.

Widnes Vikings - Crusaders’ opponents in next Sunday’s 1895 Cup Group Six clash - thrashed visitors Doncaster 50-16 to progress.

Other results: Lock Lane 6 Hunslet ARL 46; Siddal 6 Wakefield Trinity 70; Stanningley 4 Wath Brow Hornets 30; Hammersmith Hills Hoists 22 Wests Warriors 12; Dewsbury Rams 8York Knights 14; Thatto Heath Crusaders 0 Featherstone Rovers 72; Halifax Panthers 32 Whitehaven 4; Hunslet 14 Keighley Cougars 22; Rochdale Hornets 24 Midlands Hurricanes 20; Swinton Lions 50 West Hull 6..