Old Crossleyans 38
Revenge was sweet for Old Crossleyans, a convincing North One East win compensating for their away defeat in October.
However, even more welcome was the five points, including the four try bonus point in the fight against the drop.
Crocs’ competence and confidence grew as the game progressed and even with the presence of ex-Halifax hooker Carl Mortimer and former Rotherham lock John Dudley, Sheffield had no answer to the home side’s adventurous, open rugby.
The home team took a while to warm to the task and scrum half Ed Cockroft missed a straightforward penalty but he then atoned four minutes later to give Crocs a 3-0 lead.
Fly half Gareth Ott kept the team on the front foot with precise touch finders and a series of half breaks, well supported by the pack, creating a chance for flanker Rob Oliver who kicked over the defending winger to touch down in the corner but the referee ruled it out
From Sheffield’s 22 metre drop out, Crocs’ impressive No 7 Danny Booth broke upfield on the right but his pass to supporting centre Jack Hammond dropped short with the line open.
Sheffield were short with a penalty from their own half before Cockroft’s long touch kick to halfway was returned by the visitors to 10 metres from Crocs line where they stole the line out and passed wide along their backs, Hammond’s strong tackle preventing a certain score.
Crossleyans were using the ball well with power runs from No 8 Manny Riaz and big centre Neil Richardson. Sheffield’s defence held until full-back Chris Seymour broke through on half way in midfield, Jack Hammond’s forward dash took play to Sheffield’s 22 metre line and his long floated pass to the left gave wing Leigh Thomas the chance to speed to the corner, Cockroft adding a fine conversion from the touchline to put Crocs 10 -0 in front on the half hour.
Sheffield lost their No 6 to a yellow card and Crossleyans capitalised when Cockroft sped up the wing and broke a couple of half tackles before finding Jack Hammond, who scored in the corner,.Cockroft crowned his efforts with a superb touchline conversion for a 17-0 interval lead.
From the restart Crossleyans pressured the visiting defence, Joe Baker chasing a long Cockroft touch finder and forcing a line out from whick lock Chris Wood made a big charge to the line to be well stopped.
Both sides opened up play with end to end exchanges, Crocs winning a penalty for offside but Cockroft missed from 30 metres.
Sheffield returned to Crocs territory and desperate defence five metres out resulted in a yellow card for not rolling away. Sheffield then exerted numerical pressure, forcing the home side to concede a deliberate knock on from which Sheffield’s big lock Tom White scored near the posts, Donal Collins converting.
This did not disrupt Crossleyans’ attacking mindset and five minutes later a long Sheffield clearance to the home 22 metre area was taken by flanker Rob Oliver who, pressured by the chasing Sheffield attack, passed to Seymour.
He stepped inside the tackler and found Gareth Ott, whose half break from the 22 metre line gave hooker Richard Wheale a charge up the left, wing Leigh Thomas carrying on the attack over halfway.
From the tackle the ball sped to the right, lock Simon Normanton finding Seymour in support and he made good yards to 10 metres out, passing out of the tackle to Oliver who took a difficult ball to score in the corner. Cockroft’s touchline conversion took Crocs into a 24-7 lead.
Crossleyans now had their tails up and after a further five minutes of exchanges, sustained forward pressure from Riaz, props Andy Day and Dave Moloney took the home team to the bottom corner, creating a charge for lock Wood to score a good bonus point try out wide. Cockroft’s confident conversion pulled the home team further ahead 31 - 7.
James Cooper came on for Simon Normanton, and out of retirement Arnie Palmer replaced Moloney to resurrect a front row with Richard Wheale and Day.
They proved their worth at the next scrum 10 metres out, wheeling the big Sheffield eight to gain the put in for the big boot of Neil Richardson to clear to 30 metres.
Sheffield’s lineout gave them an attacking opportunity into the home 22 metre area but poor handling enabled Richardson to intercept five metres out and charge 30 metres upfield.
Crocs quickly recycled the ball, No 10 Gareth Ott feeding Wainwright who carried into Sheffield’s half with Seymour up in support.
He drew the fullback for Richardson to take the scoring pass and complete another length of fthe ield play, Cockroft’s goal making the score 38-7.
The last act of the game saw Sheffield’s scoring duo repeate their act, lock White scoring in the corner for Collins to convert.