Crocs on a roll as they look to rescue season

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Durham City 0

Old Crossleyans 46

OLD Crossleyans scored eight tries without reply as they banked another five points in their bid to stay in North One East, comprehensively outplaying Durham.

The swirling wind prevented accurate goal kicking but Crocs had stamped their authority on the game by half time, leading 15-0 courtesy of three super tries.

Crocs set the scene within three minutes when, from a five metre scrum wide on the right, returning No 8 Ryan Hammond opened the account, picking up from the base and squeezing into the corner. Scrum half Ed Cockroft’s attempt at the difficult conversion was blown wide.

Durham maintained possession aided by two penalties and reached Crocs’ 22 metre line where a third penalty, this time for goal, drifted wide.

The visitors had to defend strong home forward pressure which was relieved by a penalty award, Cockroft’s wind assisted kick taking his team to 30 metres from the home line.

The lineout gave Crocs an attacking platform with Kev McGill and Ryan Hammond powering to the line but the referee blew for crossing.

The ball was returned through the hands by prop Dave Moloney and lock McGill, but again a forced pass surrendered possession when going to ground was the better option. Durham’s long kick out of defence was again returned by Crocs but over elaboration prevented a score.

The breakthrough eventually came when at an attacking lineout on the home 22 metre line where No 6 Manny Riaz soared high above his opponents. His clean catch and back pass reached the perfectly positioned Ryan Hammond, standing out of the line at scrum half and he accelerated through the lineout columns to dive over, taking three tacklers with him for his second touchdown and a lead of 10-0 after 28 minutes.

Crocs upped their game and returned the restart with a long boot from centre Neil Richardson to the home 10 metre line. Durham’s wing kicked high upfield but only found Cockroft, whose trademark mazy run took him through the opposition in centre field before he veered out wide and fed wing Leigh Thomas for another five points and a 0-15 lead..

Durham’s restart was regathered and their centres raced down midfield with the Crocs defence left stranded yet Ryan Hammond hauled down the attacker from behind who spilled the ball, stopping a certain score.

Crocs returned to the attack, maintaining possession and position through many phases, orchestrated by maestro fly half Gareth Ott and well supported by his colleagues typified by captain JamesWainwright’s midfield break. They won a penalty that Cockroft struck just short to leave the score at 15-0 at the break.

Crossleyans’ style of running rugby was paying dividends, but over elaboration kept letting them down so the message at the break was to keep things simple.

Durham suffered a major loss when their second substitute front row could not continue so non-contested scrums resulted. This was balanced by Crocs losing their ascendancy at the set piece and giving Durham’s forceful backs quicker ball.

The third quarter was punctuated with kicks distorted by the prevalent wind, Crocs centre Richardson twice kicking out on the full until he found his range. Both teams therefore kept the ball in hand with end to end exchanges, Durham covering their one man deficit effectively.

The floodgates opened when Durham’s flanker was yellow carded and from a midfield uncontested scrum fly half Ott released centre Jack Hammond on a half break to the right wing, brother Billy taking three defenders with him over the line for a great individual try which also secured the bonus point bonus point.

Cockroft’s conversion, the first of the game, gave Crocs a commanding 22-0 lead after 50 minutes.

Riaz cut loose from the restart, reaching the home 22 metre line. Hooker Richard Wheale, in support, kicked over the defence but failed to gather on the bounce but soon atoned when another Crocs attack gave centre Jack Hammond a midfield charge.

Wheale’s nose for a chance found him in support to score midway out, Cockroft’s goal attempt drifting just wide.

Crocs substituted tireless prop Andy Day and Wheale with Simon Normanton and James Cooper to bring fresh legs to an already in control Crossleyans side whose expansive play overwhelmed the never-say die hosts.

Second-row Kev McGill, again outstanding, charged up centre field but his overhead pass to co-lock Chris Wood did not go to hand.

Durham then attacked on the left, kicking ahead into space, only for Riaz to perform classic defence by dropping on the ball, securing possession and enabling Crocs to return to attack.

Ryan Hammond stormed up the left from inside his own half with wing Thomas taking the inside pass to cut through tackles infield and score close to the posts, Cockroft’s goal giving his side a 32-0 lead.

Crossleyans attacked again from the restart, Ott kicking over and gathering and Riaz taking the ball on to give fullback Joe Baker a run across field. Baker held the ball up in the tackle and tossed it over the top for Jack Hammoned to score, Cockroft adding a super conversion.

Baker caught the restart and released wing Thomas who then cut inside to Ryan Hammond on halfway and his trademark weaving run bamboozled the tired defence, the conversion from under the posts closing out the game.