Sheffield 18 Old Crossleyans 13
Old Crossleyans managed to salvage a losing bonus point as North One East basement club Sheffield belied their position to run out deserved winners.
The heavy conditions were not conducive to Crocs’ normal running game. However, they did not help their cause with a number of dropped passes, poor touch finding and lineout work holding them back.
The visitors were without influential No8 and captain Ryan Hammond and former player-coach Chris Jones which meant they had lost some of the bulk and power in the back row that had served them so well this season.
Sheffield had the majority of the possession in the first half and took the lead after seven minutes when third choice fly half James Pearson, playing at full back, landed a penalty for 3-0.
The lead was extended just after the half hour when right wing James Twomey curved around the defence to cross close in leaving Pearson with a straightforward conversion.
Six minutes later Crocs registered on the scoreboard with Chris Vine landing a penalty to reduce the arrears to 10-3 at half-time.
James Wainwright dropped the ball after an offload from Tony Oxley, playing his first game at No8, before Sheffield stretched their advantage again when wing Gareth Morley cut inside to score for 15-3.
The home side continued to press, spreading the ball wide and back. They were awarded a penalty for offside but played on, Pearson finally making the kick count when they were halted short.
Crocs were now under the cosh and another home attack faltered through a dropped pass which Crocs recovered and Richard Wheale took play to halfway before winning a penalty. Prop Boj Sembi was launched on a run, supported by Vine who was hauled down five metres short.
Crocs opted to scrum and substitute prop Mark Palmer led a big push which caused Sheffield to concede another penalty.
Two re-scrums followed before Sembi was credited with a pushover try, Vine hitting his conversion wide as Crocs closed the gap to 18-8.
Both sides were guilty of handling errors while Josh Dean, on his first senior run out, made yards but knocked on and the hosts were able to clear.
Replacement full back Gareth Sweeney was also off target with a penalty before Crocs secured the losing bonus point when, after Billy Hammond had made big yards, the ball spun loose and the attempted fly kick from Sheffield hit Vine who was able to gather and cross wide out for an unlikely five pointer, Sweeney arrowing his conversion attempt just wide.