Old Crossleyans suffered an agonising and controversial 25-22 defeat away to fellow North One East top five side West Hartlepool.
A referee who confounded and exasperated players and supporters from both sides awarded a late converted try to the hosts, with Crocs appealing in vain that the ball had been knocked on over the line.
It completed a disappointing afternoon for the Broomfield men, who were penalised 18-8 by the official and had three players yellow carded to the home side’s one.
Visiting No 6 Tony Oxley was the first to be sin-binned, for not rolling away at the tackle, after home stand off Stu Waites had missed a third-minute penalty.
Crocs were forced to defend on their own line but Neil Richardson eventually put in a 50 metre clearance.
Centre Jack Hammond’s cut out pass enabled winger Chris Vine to make progress up the left wing and when Wests were offside Vine kicked the penalty, adding a second shortly after for a 6-0 lead after 25 minutes.
The official spoke to both captains after a fracas from a scrum close to the Crocs line and shortly after Wests prop Ian Pinchen touched down 10 metres in from touch and Waites converted.
The home lead lasted only three minutes, Vine slotting his third penalty for a 7-9 scoreline following Richardson’s charge through the cover.
Wests regained the advantage through Waites’ boot on 38 minutes after visiting skipper Ryan Hammond had queried a decision and been moved back 10 metres.
However, Vine had the final say of the half with his fourth successful kick after he had made another great run and Jack Hammond had almost cracked the home defence.
Crocs, leading 12-10, started the second half brightly and might have scored from Kev McGill’s stolen lineout possession. Ryan Hammond broke over half-way, supported by Oxley and scrum half Will Travis but the ball went into touch with the line open.
However, on 45 minutes Crocs wheeled a Wests scrum, won the ball and stand off Gareth Ott produced his trademark inside step through the defence and went under the posts, Vine’s kick making it 19-10 to the visitors.
When Wests ran back Vine’s high kick from defence, Joe Baker was yellow carded and Waites’s penalty pulled back three points on 48 minutes.
Ryan Hammond made a 30 metre break and the home side were penalised for not releasing and then marched back 20 metres for dissent, Vine’s easy kick made it 13-22 on 56 minutes.
The home number seven was sent to the bin and Crocs lock Chris Wood joined him on the sidelines after a great break by Ott and then a series of attacks across the backs by Wests.
Prop Bodge Sembi was prominent in defence for Crocs but replacement Gareth Sweeney was unable to hold the ball from a kick to the corner and home winger Luke Mallinson scored an unconverted try to reduce the gap to four points with 12 minutes left.
Wests attacked incessantly from a series of penalties. Crocs held firm at a five metre scrum but eventually, from a kick to the corner and lineout, Wests scrambled the ball on the floor over the line and a try was awarded.
Waites converted and Crocs held out for a losing bonus point in the gathering gloom.