Gareth Thomas congratulates hat-trick hero Michael Witt during his side's crushing 42-12 victory over Salford at the Millennium Stadium
By Ged Scott
BBC Sport at the Millennium Stadium
Iestyn Harris's Crusaders produced the performance of the weekend at the Millennium Stadium as they demolished Salford in Cardiff.
Scrum-half Michael Witt helped himself to a hat-trick as the Wrexham-based side ran in seven tries.
Debutants Stuart Reardon, who bagged a brace, and on-loan Rhys Williams, after just five minutes, also crossed.
Jason Chan was on the scoresheet too as Salford's day ended in disarray, with Wayne Godwin sent off for a punch.
On his debut, following his winter arrival from Bradford, Godwin was shown the red card for taking a full-blooded whack at Crusaders full-back Clinton Schifcofske, who had earlier kicked 14 points for the Welsh side.
Godwin lost his head in a late dust-up involving most of the 26 players as Salford mentally crumbled after a devastating second-half onslaught from Crusaders to mark Harris's first game at the helm.
With Wales' rugby union team getting back to winning ways 300 miles north in Edinburgh the night before, it somehow seemed appropriate that their country's Super League outfit should follow suit in such style under the guidance of one of Welsh rugby's most celebrated sporting sons - on the same soil Harris himself once trod.
It all went badly wrong after the break for Salford, who had rallied from a poor start to be well in the game at half-time.
The Reds quickly responded to young winger Williams' converted fifth-minute try when scrum-half David Holdsworth converted his own effort.
And, although Crusaders then ran in two tries inside three minutes through Witt and Reardon, Schifcofske missing the second of the conversions, Reds full-back Luke Patten pulled it back to 16-12, Holdsworth improving again just before the interval.
But Schifcofske's late penalty earned Crusaders a six-point cushion at the break - and they ran amok after the restart with four tries inside a quarter of an hour.
Chan got the first, Witt then crossed twice in as many minutes and Reardon completed the rout, Schifcofske kicking all four conversions.
That only left Godwin's late loss of discipline, which earned him an appointment with the Rugby Football League disciplinary board at Red Hall on Tuesday.
Crusaders coach Iestyn Harris: "It is a really good start, a great result for us.
"We showed signs we are improving, so I am really pleased with it.
"We spoke about taking out the four points as quickly as possible, so we are halfway there.
"I was really impressed with some of our individual improvements and if you improve individually, you will improve collectively."
Salford coach Shaun McRae: "We were a bit slow out of the blocks and I thought we'd done enough by half-time to recover. But the second half was just a bit embarrassing really, and I don't understand it.
"Crusaders did all right. They weren't outstanding but they did enough to beat us and it's a bit hard to come up with reasons.
"I've not spoken to Wayne Godwin but I'm probably not in the best of moods to talk to him right now.
"What he did was clearly not something we'd encourage. I'm a bit disappointed in him. He'll have to go up on Tuesday and face a charge."
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