Crocs miss another home chance

Actions from the game, Old Crossleyans v Sheffield RU, at Broomfield, pictured is Chris Vine
Actions from the game, Old Crossleyans v Sheffield RU, at Broomfield, pictured is Chris Vine

Next-to-bottom Old Crossleyans emerged empty-handed from another North One East contest when they lost 20-11 at home to Percy Park yesterday.

They looked as if they might snatch a draw when Chris Vine dived over the try line with seven minutes left to make it 11-13.

However, the scrum half was unable to convert and the visitors from North Shield denied Crocs even a losing bonus point with a converted try three minutes from time.

It was another missed opportunity for the Broomfield men, who have now lost seven out of eight in the league this season.

Park have a poor record at Broomfield and although they have made a fine start to the season, their young side made plenty of mistakes and did not overwhelm a home pack with a makeshift back five.

Crocs simply had too many players missing and too many square pegs in round holes to take advantage in spite of a whole-hearted effort led by Raman Sembi and Gareth Ott.

Conditions were ideal but it was still a low-key affair with few try-scoring opportunities.

Stand off Ash Smith gave Park the lead with a simple third minute penalty.

Two visiting backs then got across well to deny home fullback Adam Sutcliffe wide on Crocs’ right from what turned out to be an isolated raid.

Vine made it 3-3 from 25 metres on 19 minutes but knock-ons from back rowers Richard Wheale and Luke Gardiner paved the way for the visitors to reply with 10 points in the space of four minutes.

Park’s first try, on 22 minutes, came when their mountainous number four made a half-break and off-loaded to centre Guy Pike, who just made it to the try line before being tackled.

Smith converted and added a penalty three minutes later, when a Crocs player pulled back a visiting attacker.

It remained 3-13 up to half time, Vine missing a fairly long, straight penalty for Crocs, who were solid in the scrums but haemorrhaging ball thrown to the middle and back of the lineout.

Jack Hammond’s kick went into touch via the corner flag but Park demonstrated a control their hosts were lacking to work the ball clear.

Vine made a trademark 50 metre burst from close to a ruck and kicked his second penalty from 25 metres on 54 minutes.

Crocs continued to kick away possession and it was hard to image how they could score a try.

However, they set up a driving maul from a penalty to touch 20 metres out and when the ball emerged Vine dived under a tackler to reach the try line. His kick 15 metres in from the top touchline was wide.

Crocs’ comeback hopes were dashed when the restart was allowed to bounce into touch, Park regained possession and blind side flanker Ben Bell strolled in to the left of the posts with the home side appealing in vain for a knock on.

Smith converted.

Crocs won a penalty just out of Vine’s range in the closing seconds and they twice coughed up possession close to the 22.