Whitehaven head coach Gary Charlton believes his side’s “outstanding” first half performance set the platform for their 28-14 win at North Wales Crusaders.

Charlton’s side returned to the top of the League One table as they put in a gutsy display to seal the two points.

After finding themselves 24-2 up eight minutes into the second half, Crusaders staged a comeback and reduced the deficit to ten points.

However, Haven managed the game well late on and Andrew Bulman’s effort in the final couple of minutes confirmed the victory.

“It’s a big win and any win away from home is a big win,” Charlton said.

“I thought we probably deserved it with our first half performance.

“We tackled really hard, won the collision and scored some decent tries. We played well with the ball.

“In the second half, I thought we were a bit scrappy, but you’ve got to give credit to North Wales. When they do go forward, they look a handy team.

“Our game management in the end was really good. We knew we had to slow North Wales down and win the collision.

“I thought North Wales were exceptional in the second half, but we were exceptional in the first half.”

Haven take on London Skolars next weekend in a top versus second clash.

And even Charlton has admitted he probably didn’t expect his side to be in their current position at the start of the season.

“I think it’s better than what we’d hoped for because we’re a new team that’s been put together,” he said.

“We’ve got some good players in good positions and I think it’s starting to show.

“Everybody’s been training well, putting in the effort and you saw that today.

“They’re reaping the rewards.

“They’re a tight-knit group and I’m really pleased for them, but we’ve still got a lot of challenges ahead.

“I think both ourselves and London have progressed since the start of the year so it’s going to be really tough.

“London will come right down the middle for us and we’ll have to defend for the full 80 minutes.

“Any team that is ten per cent off where they should be will get beaten in this league.”

Charlton and his team can now confidently prepare for a huge game next Saturday, when they entertain second-placed London Skolars at The Recre (6pm ko).