Crocs lose way after early tries

Old Crossleyans v Darlington.'Gareth Sweeney for Crocs.

Old Crossleyans v Darlington.'Gareth Sweeney for Crocs.

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Old Crossleyans failed to make the most of a flying start and went down 25-17 to West Hartlepool in North East One.

They scored two tries in the first eight minutes and blew two more golden opportunities before surrendering the advantage and losing at home for the second successive Saturday.

The Broomfield men, lacking backs Ed Cockroft and Neil Richardson but with Chris Vine returning on the wing, were quick to make their mark.

They won lineout ball on half-way and from a long pass left winger Gareth Sweeney went round the defence to score, Vine just missing with the kick.

Crocs regain possession form the restart and repeated drives and passing paved the way for diminutive open side flanker Rob Oliver to dive over near the posts for a 10-0 lead on eight minutes.

However, the rusty Vine missed the kick and more points went begging when half-backs Gareth Ott and Will Travis made breaks but kicked too strongly for Sweeney and the ball went out of play.

Wests made the most of the let-offs, driving strongly through their forwards and stealing a Crocs lineout for No 6 Alex Barker to score an unconverted try wide out.

Vine was short with a straight 40 metre penalty and Wests hit the front with penalties from stand-off Stu Waites on 23 and 35 minutes.

It remained 10-11 up to the interval, lock Chris Wood and Travis having gone close to a third try for the hosts.

Centre Ben Greaves, fullback Chris Seymour and Vine featured in a good attack but the ball went to ground and Wests went 18-10 up on 50 minutes when poor tackling led to scrum half Ryan Painter touching down and Waites converting.

Greaves and influential No 8 Ryan Hammond went off injured and the visitors took advantage through Painter again on the hour, Waites adding a great conversion to open up a 15-point gap.

Crocs’ efforts were hampered by mistakes in possession but they got a third try with two minutes left with an excellent move from a scrum 15 metres from their own line.

Ott made the break and centre Jack Hammond and Vine took the ball on. Vine was downed on the 22 but an inside ball enabled No 6 Luke Gardiner to score near the posts and Sweeney converted.