Team Northumbria 28 Old Crossleyans 23
Gallant Old Crossleyans’ stoppage time length of the field foray just failed to bring a deserved victory as they secured the consolation of a losing bonus point.
Crocs exceeded their own expectations to lead 17-9 at the break and 23-21 with five minutes left. However, the home side’s non stop attacking style earned the win and avenged an early season loss at Broomfield.
The visiting pack were proving technically superior to the home eight and Rory Davis scored a pushover try under the posts on 20 minutes, Chris Jones converting for a 3-7 lead following an earlier penalty for the home team.
Team Northumbria’s scrum half Rowntree added his second penalty five minutes later, countered by three points from Jones’ boot for a 6-10 lead after 30 minutes.
Crossleyans had to mount a strong defence on their own line where they conceding a knock forward. From the scrum Northumbria passed back to the limping No 10 Harrison who managed the drop goal despite a heavily strapped thigh to close the gap to 9-10.
Jones’ restart did not go 10 metres and from the ensuing Northumbria scrum on half way, Crocs power pack wheeled the big home eight for No 7 Dan Temm to pick up the loose ball and charge to the posts beating off desperate defensive tackles only to be hauled down 10 metres out. He was able to slip the ball to fly half Chris Jones in support who scored the try wide of the posts, which he confidently converted to give Crossleyans a 9-17 lead at the break.
Team Northumbria attacked from the restart and from a lineout their crossfield raid was halted by Boj Sembi’s high tackle. The home backs spun the ball wide creating an overlap on the left for centre McKenzie to cross out wide, Rowntree converting to narrow the score 16-17.
Tempers frayed following a Northumbria throw to the back of the line-out a major resulting in both No 7’s going to the bin for 10 minutes and from which Crocs’ penalty award was sent wide by Jones.
Northumbria’s restart went out on the full and from the scrum Wainwright scurried right giving Richardson a charge which was taken on by Manny Riaz and Sembi before the pack mauled to 10 metres out enabling Neil Richardson to position himself well and kick his first ever drop goal to edge the score further ahead at 16-20.
Northumbria regathered their own restart, passed across field and then, when Crossleyans were caught offside, inexplicably took a tap penalty 30 metres out in front of the posts from which Crocs defence held well until Rowntree lofted a kick over the defending back line to the corner for the wing to catch and fall over, the unconverted try taking his team into the lead for the first time at 21-20.
Positive play earned Crocs a penalty in front of the posts. The home team argued and were taken back 10 metres and then a further 10 metres for more dissent enabling Chris Jones to regain the lead at 23-21 with five minutes left.
The home side were revitalised and fast interpassing from wing to wing outpaced the tiring visitors for Coleman to crash over, Rowntree again adding the extras to take the lead again 28 - 23 with time running out.
Jones saw a penalty drift wide before promising approach play released Sembi on the break with McGill on his outside but the ball went to ground and with it the chance of victory.