Crocs show battling qualities

Old Crossleyans 13 Pocklington 8

CROCS toughed it out in a second period spanning 55 minutes to complete a highly satisfactory first half to their North East One campaign.

Their seventh success came courtesy of a brisk, expansive start which yielded 10 points in the first seven minutes and then an increasingly brave defensive effort.

They refused to crack against an onslaught from the Pocklington pack in the second half, even when down to 13 men, and finished the contest standing firm on their own line in the driving rain and gathering gloom.

Crocs were already without Ryan Hammond, Joe Baker, Kev McGill and Joe Baker before Billy Hammond was ill before the kick off. Neil Richardson, James Cooper and Gareth Sweeney helped plug the gaps for the first ever league meeting between the sides.

The hosts dominated for the first 15 minutes after player-coach Chris Jones, again leading by example at number six, had expertly gathered in the kick off.

The sure-footed Leigh Thomas kicked them in front with a straightish 35 metre penalty on five minutes and shortly after made a 50 metre dash along the bottom touchline, following Jack Hammond’s pass, to set up the position for a try.

Crocs are experts at moving the ball across the full width of the pitch very quickly and did just that to enable Sweeney to touch down a yard in from the flag at the top corner. Thomas’s kick bisected the posts perfectly and the home side had the perfect platform for what looked likely to be a comfortable win.

Pocklington were having none of it and slowly worked their way into the game, aided by the efforts of vociferous supporters who appeared to have some success in influencing referee Graeme Hall’s decision-making.

The penalties started to flow Pocklington’s way but Thomas made another break and then missed with an ambitious shot at goal.

The East Yorkshire side’s pack were building up a head of steam. Twice they wheeled the scrum to earn possession, captain and prop Matt Webber rewarding their pressure with an unconverted try from close range seconds before the interval.

Pocklington’s momentum was maintained in the second half, their well-drilled forwards making ground through driving mauls and individual surges.

A forward pass brought relief to Crocs after one lengthy spell of defending but when No 8 Manny Riaz was yellow carded for what was deemed to be an illegal tackle and hooker Bodge Sembi joined him on the sidelines two minutes later for offside, it seemed the dam must burst.

Billy Hardy kicked the penalty following Sembi’s offence to make it 10-8, but no more points were forthcoming for the visitors as the 13-man Crocs worked like Trojans to tackle and apply enough defensive pressure to force handling errors.

Surviving this spell lifted the home men and Thomas made it 13-8 with a penalty for offside on the 22.

Crocs looked to be holding on but one poor pass and a fluffed attempted clearance landed them in trouble. Pocklington battered away in a much-prolonged finale but just could not knock down the yellow and navy wall.

Victory lifted Crocs to fifth and they now get a weekend off before games against Malton and Norton (away) and Morley (home) complete their 2012 programme.