Old Brodleians 19
Old Crossleyans 17
JUBILANT Brods coach Ian Armitage urged his side not to bask too long in the glory of completing a North One East double over their Halifax rivals.
The Hipperholme side followed up their 20-13 success at Broomfield in mid-September with a gritty victory on Saturday against opponents also anxious to snap a long losing run.
Crocs looked favourites when they swept down the Woodhead slope to take the lead two minutes into the second half but an opportunist’s try from stalwart Adam Standeven restored the home side’s lead and Brods comfortably kept their fading rivals at arm’s length in the final quarter.
Victory was Brods’ first since October 22 and while it kept them 13 points clear of the bottom three, it left Crocs facing arguably a bigger relegation battle than the one they won last season.
Armitage said: “It is a fantastic double but I don’t want that to be what this season is all about.
“The league is bigger than that. Let a partisan crowd enjoy the banter - for me it is about league points and being competitive.”
Morpeth’s surprise win over promotion-gunning Middlesbrough in one of only two other games to be played in the section on Saturday was further bad news for Crocs, who were being beaten for the sixth time in a row.
They did pick up a losing bonus point and their sidelined player-coach Chris Jones was not too disappointed with his side’s display. He believes the return of himself, hooker Richard Wheale and No 8 Ryan Hammond in the New Year should make a difference.
“I’m backing us to stay up,” he said.
Crocs were unable to establish their expected dominance up front and the home side’s patched up back line, with Standeven and hooker Rob Jennings as emergency centres, did enough to ensure a more conservative brand of rugby than the Brods are noted for yielded the desired result.
Home No 8 Luke Scrimshaw was by far the best player on the field, beating off tacklers to make valuable yards from the back of the scrum on numerous occasions, while Armitage felt Scrimshaw’s brother Lee and Kyle Millward had proved their worth after stepping up from the second team pack.
The first half, which finished 14-10 to Brods, was bookended by converted tries for the hosts with Crocs holding the upper hand for the best part of 30 minutes in between.
The home side went in front on seven minutes when Luke Scrimshaw rumbled to within 10 metres of the line and young prop Jonjo Ward forced his way over to the right of the posts, young fullback Danny Wood adding the conversion.
Crocs missed a golden chance to reply four minutes later. Skipper James Wainwright and No 8 Manny Riaz made good ground before Gareth Ott ghosted through but the stand off’s pass to unmarked right winger Leigh Thomas was too high and the ball was knocked on.
That heralded a spell of concerted pressure near the Brods line and although Crocs retained possession through numerous phases it was slow ball and not too difficult to defend against, locks Chris Wood and James Kavanagh coming closest to making the try line.
Brods cleared but the visitors were soon back, making light of the loss of back rowers Simon Normanton and Danny Booth through injury to sweep into the lead.
They took advantage of Brods indiscipline to register their first points on 26 minutes, spinning the ball right for Jack Hammond to send Thomas over following a penalty for backchat on half-way.
Scrum half Ed Cockroft landed the far from straightforward conversion and then kicked Crocs into a 10-7 lead on 30 minutes with a penalty after Ott’s lovely inside pass had sent heavily-involved fullback Chris Seymour racing into the danger zone.
Brods looked under the cosh but responded with a strong finish to the half. Lee Scrimshaw and prop Jamie McLaughlin were hauled down with the line in sight before Luke Scrimshaw shrugged off several tacklers and got the ball away for Jennings to muscle his way over 20 metres to the left of the posts, Wood adding the goal.
Crocs got just the start they wanted to the second period, Bodge Sembi and Wainwright punching holes in the home defence and Cockroft making it to the line in a crowd of players. The scrum half converted and Crocs looked capable of running out convincing winners.
However, Brods managed to boss possession and territory from then on and were gifted what turned out to be the all-important score on 54 minutes with some Crocs errors Jones later described as “criminal”.
The visitors failed to control the ball following a ruck on half way, Kavanagh initially failing to pick it up and a couple more Crocs players following suit. Standeven was quick and persistent, however, hacking forward and touching down wide on the left for an unconverted try to make it 19-17.
Wainwright wriggled through the middle and a Cockroft penalty put Crocs back in the home 22 but their threat gradually receded.
Brods were picking up injuries themselves but they took the ball up to the other end and kept it there, aided by Ollie Akroyd’s lineout possession and some safety first forward play.
In the closing minutes the visitors lifted the siege, Jack Hammond making a half-break but replacement Gerard Rollins being unable to hold his pass.
CROSSLEYANS seconds beat their North Ribblesdale counterparts 39-0 at Broomfield