Crocs improve but still fall short

Old Crossleyans 28 Wheatley Hills 33

Old Crossleyans restored some pride following the disaster at Keighley with a spirited display against a powerful Wheatley Hills side who are gunning for promotion from North One East.

Crocs had an even weaker side out than the one which lost last week, but they pulled together and could have held Hills to a draw had it not been for a missed penalty and final conversion.

The home side did secure a losing bonus point which would have brought player-coach Chris Jones some solace despite his return being ended prematurely when a severe cut to the head early in the second half led to a trip to A&E.

Hills took just four minutes to hit the front. From Crocs’ kick off the visitors stormed to the home line where extended pressure saw the ball spread wide and a three man overlap secured the unconverted try.

Crocs responded well with wing Will Clayton charging 40 metres before Ryan Hammond took the ball on but he was stopped short.

The pressure was maintained and scrum half Chris Vine made his kick count when Crocs were awarded a penalty to make it 3-5 after 10 minutes.

Five minutes later a Hills lineout led to a charge to five metres where the ball was spread wide and another overlap saw the full back race in and convert for 3-12.

Both sides were making decent ground but Crocs missed out on points when Vine was dumped vertically. From the penalty James Wainwright, playing on the wing, made a good burst up the left but was isolated and Hills recovered to clear the danger.

Hills returned to the attack and pressure from a five metre scrum enabled the big pack to drive over for a converted score and a 3-19 lead.

Vine then fielded a Hills punt over the defence and fed Gareth Ott who raced from halfway to the 22 but was bundled into touch.

The Hills lineout was stolen by Crocs and the ball fired wide to Ott. His long pass found Jack Hammond in front of the posts who in turn sent out an outrageous pass to Wainwright who raced in, Vine securing a great conversion for 10-19 after 35 minutes.

Crocs were saved by a knock on when Hills threatened again, but the visitors added to their tally before the interval when Hills took possession of the ball and hesitant defence allowed the right wing to touch down for a converted score which opened up a 26-10 advantage.

The visiting forwards started the second half strongly but it was Crocs who registered the next points when Manny Riaz won a penalty on the oppositions 22 and Vine did the rest for 13-26.

Jones then had to leave the field and was replaced by Rama Sembi. Crocs attacked and centre Jack Hammond broke through on halfway. Hooker Boj Sembi took the ball to the 22, winning a penalty which Vine completed to make it 16-26 after 53 minutes.

Another chance was lost when Manny Riaz and Boj Sembi combined to release Jack Hammond but his inside pass to Ott just fell short of his reach.

Hills’ No 8 Burns was well-stopped by the Crocs forwards and from the scrum the ball was spread wide.

Another good break from Jack Hammond released Ott who produced a superb dummy and jinked through close to the posts but Vine was agonisingly off target with the kick.

Hills’ restart was re-gathered by the forwards who made repeated drives before scoring a converted try by the posts.

Prop Andy Day then found himself in a good position from a lineout but spilled the ball in the tackle with the line beckoning.

With time running out Neil Richardson’s long kick to halfway was followed up by Wainwright who was stopped but won a penalty.

He ambitiously tapped and ran, finding Ryan Hammond on his inside and with support coming from Oxley, the ball reached Riaz who charged over by the posts, Vine just failing with the pressure kick.