Old Crossleyans drew a blank on the points front for the first time this season when beaten 39-20 at Malton and Norton in North One East yesterday.
They were in losing bonus point territory with five minutes left but two tries to the home side, one of them converted, put daylight between the teams.
The Broomfield men were without Neil Richardson, Rory Davis and Chris Jones while lock Kev McGill pulled a hamstring in the warm-up and was replaced by Luke Leonard.
Rival kickers James Bulmer for the hosts and Chris Vine both missed early penalties before Vine hit the target on seven minutes.
Malton went 7-3 up on 16 minutes when George Harrison scored by the posts following a tap penalty, Bulmer converting.
A yellow card left Crocs with a man advantage and they made the most of it when skipper Ryan Hammond ran a penalty and the supporting Vine weaved past five defenders to score. Vine surprisingly missed the kick but Crocs had their noses in front by 8-7 after 20 minutes.
A Bodge Sembi burst went unsupported and Malton replied with good inter-passing down the right. Following a penalty, they mauled the ball to the posts and Harrison touched down for a try converted by Bulmer on 30 minutes.
After a run from Billy Hammond up the right, Crocs lost Gareth Ott to injury and the experienced Chris Seymour moved from centre to stand off.
Undeterred, Crocs reduced the deficit to 14-13 on 35 minutes when Seymour fed James Wainwright on the inside cut and Jack Hammond’s long pass to the flank enabled Gareth Sweeney to score an unconverted try in the corner.
Ben Robinson replaced fellow newcomer Leonard at half time for Crocs, who had a chance to take the lead but Vine missed a 30 metre penalty.
Instead, Malton moved 19-13 ahead when they stole Crocs lineout possession and got the ball wide for George Elliott to cross by the posts, the extra two points going begging when Bulmer missed.
Crocs threatened after a driving maul while a big hit from Andy Day caused a home player to spill the ball.
A wave of Malton attacks produced three points for Bulmer on 55 minutes and the home side moved 27-13 ahead when Elliott was rewarded for his persistence after hacking on a grubber kick. Bulmer again missed the kick.
A high tackle on Joe Baker left the home side temporarily down to 14 men again and Crocs ramped up the pressure. Sweeney was bundled into touch by the flag but Crocs did get over the try line when James Wainwright cut inside to score by the posts and Vine’s kick made it 27-20 on 62 minutes.
Sweeney again went close as Crocs looked to make further inroads but with time running out home centre Ian Cooke cut through from a scrum 30 metres out and Bulmer converted.
Baker and Sweeney combined for Ryan Hammond to have a run but the ball was lost and Malton had the last word through No 8 Sam Triffitt after a deft grubber kick.