Struggling Old Crossleyans returned from a trip to North One East leaders Sheffield with a surprise losing bonus point in a 27-22 defeat.
The return of Ed Cockroft at scrum half had a galvanising effect and the Broomfield men led until approaching the final 10 minutes, when a try and a penalty gave the relieved home side victory.
The light was starting to fade by then, the game having been held up for 40 minutes in the first half when the referee was injured and a replacement summoned.
Again Crocs fielded a denuded team, fullback Ben Greaves and centre Neil Richardson adding to missing persons list along with the unfortunate Manny Riaz, whose long-standing arm injury flared up in training.
Crocs’ other two scrum halves, Will Travis and Chris Vine, exhibited their great versatility by playing at numbers seven and 13 respectively.
Sheffield presented a daunting prospect but Crocs took the game to them from the kick off. Cockroft kicking three good penalties in the opening 10 minutes for a 9-0 lead.
Crocs then gifted a soft try to home No 8 Johnny France, converted by stand off Ben Parker.
After 18 minutes the referee hobbled off and after the length break Sheffield almost scored but the referee ruled a knock on, then penalised Crocs for obstruction.
Sheffield attempted a lineout catch and drive and earned a penalty try when Crocs were ruled to have pulled down the maul. Parker converted from under the sticks and Sheffield led 14-9.
Crocs regained the lead four minutes before half time following a penalty to touch on the 22. The visitors went wide through the backs and No 8 Luke Gardiner and centre Jack Hammond paved the way for Richard Wheale to roll over the line by the posts for a great try. The conversion from Cockroft made it 16-14 to Crocs.
An interception foiled Crocs attempts to add to their tally at the start of the second period but another good lineout take gave them a chance to open out and when Sheffield were penalised in midfield 35 metres out, Cockroft added another three points.
Sheffield replied when they stole ball in centre field and centre Gareth Morley cut through from 40 metres out to score an unconverted try in the corner on 52 minutes.
Crocs centre Chris Vine was the victim of a cheap shot in midfield and Cockroft sent another great kick just over bar from 40 metres to restore the visitors’ lead at 22-19.
However, Sheffield made ground on the back of penalties and from a kick to the corner, forward pressure led to open side Dave Bradford going over.
Parker’s kick was just wide but Sheffield led 24-22 on 69 minutes.
Parker had the last word five minutes later with a penalty from in front of the posts.