Ball: Rishies are so close to sealing title glory

Old Crossleyans go to Darlington in North One East tomorrow with director of rugby Howard Cooper hoping they can string together a sequence of good results.

The Broomfield men returned to winning ways after two narrow setbacks with a 36-13 home win over bottom club Durham City last Saturday.

Tomorrow’s game against a Darlington side who are next-to-bottom and were crushed 71-7 at Broomfield in late September appears to present another opportunity for five points.

After that clash Cooper’s side host mid-table Northern and then go to third-from bottom Keighley before a home game against a second-placed Wheatley Hills side who are reputedly not desperate to gain promotion.

Cooper said: “Looking at the fixtures, we are hoping for four or five wins in a row to consolidate our place in the top five or six.”

The former county lock is taking nothing for granted tomorrow, however, having watched a video of Darlington shock Wheatley Hills 13 days ago.

“They have a big, strong pack,” he said. “We don’t want a wet, heavy pitch. We’re hoping for a dry day so we can move them around.”

Cooper will be hoping for an improvement on last week when Crocs were less than convincing against a Durham side who showed they still had plenty of spirit in spite of winning only one league game this season.

Winger Leigh Thomas, the most penetrative player on the pitch, scored a hat-trick of tries while scrum half Chris Vine and forwards Manny Riaz and Kev McGill also touched down. Thomas added three conversions.

However, Crocs were unable to get on top up front and struggled for fluency with the ball in hand on a cold day. They also had to dig deep in defence when a plucky Durham side only 11 points down battered away at their try line midway through the second half.

Cooper said: “We didn’t play particularly well - we were not pleased with our performance.

“Durham raised their game and we didn’t have the intensity of previous weeks.

“Off the back of a couple of tough derby games against Morley and Cleckheaton a bit of complacency seemed to creep in.”

Ryan and Billy Hammond are expected to be available again tomorrow while experienced prop Mark Palmer was also an absentee against Durham.