Bradford & Bingley 34 Old Crossleyans 8
Head coach Neil Spence and assistant Ben Greaves suffered a disappointing return to Wagon Lane as they watched their Old Crossleyans side suffer a heavy North One East defeat at the hands of a competent if unspectacular Bradford & Bingley outfit.
The Broomfield men are much-weakened from last season and they were made to suffer again as the Bees ran in five tries to the visitors one.
Crocs battled hard to make a game of it, but the hosts were able to fend them off despite being reduced to 12 players at one stage.
Bees centre Richard Tafu set the ball rolling after just four minutes with full-back Richard Scully converting for a 7-0 lead.
Bees were then penalised for going over the top and No 10 Neil Richardson punted the ball 40 metres upfield.
The lineout resulted in a penalty to the home side and winger Adam Wellington charged to the corner, evading the double challenge from full back Chris Seymour and scrum half Will Travis to score in the corner for a 12-0 advantage.
Gareth Sweeney kicked Crocs back into the contest after Bees had been penalised in front of the posts, but the home side stretched their advantage again seven minutes later with centre Stuart Dixon carrying three Crocs players over the line for his side’s third try.
Scully converted to make it 19-3 and he still had time to add a penalty before the break when Luke Gardiner fed Travis but the referee pulled them up for crossing.
Luke Peacock maintained the home momentum shortly after the interval when he broke and beat the cover, Scully adding the extras for a 29-3 lead.
Jack Hammond and Greaves combined to send Gareth Sweeney on a charge but he was stopped five metres short. Sweeney then fired a penalty wide after the hosts had been caught offside.
Bees lost their No8 following a heavy tackle on Travis and soon after Jonathan McCormack was brought on to beef up the pack at a five metre scrum, but Travis was well-stopped and Bees cleared the danger to halfway.
Seymour then fed Jack Hammond and when Crocs were awarded a scrum five metres out Neil Richards attempted a flipped pass which was intercepted by Wellington who raced the length of the field to make it 34-3 on the hour.
Injured flanker George Hammond was replaced by Ryan Sweeney and soon after Bees found themselves down to 13 men after Matt Schofield spilled the ball in contact.
Another yellow card left the hosts severely depleted but Crocs were unable to fully capitalise, Jack Hammond’s try the only reward.
They were unlucky late on when Travis tapped and went before feeding Gardiner who raced through a gap on an arcing run. However, he was brought to ground five metres short to cap a frustrating afternoon.