Courageous Crossleyans just could not manage to achieve the vital scores in this must win encounter, the lack of forward power taking its toll.
Player-coach Chris Jones, out with a hand injury, made his presence felt from the sideline, his coaching skills demonstrated by the backs well led by fly-half Gareth Ott who won the man of the match accolade.
Crossleyans won the second half on points but had to play for long periods on the back foot in their own half against Durham’s dominant pack.
From the kick off, Ott put down his marker, breaking through into Durham’s half only for a penalty award to stop the move and a missed goal by scrum half Ed Cockroft.
Crocs’ next attacks were repelled and the visitors’ long penalty gained a five metre line-out but good defence held up the attacker and a penalty to Crocs for Cockroft to relieve pressure downfield.
Durham won the line out and spread the ball wide and a smart grubber kick beat the defender’s tap into touch for full back Peter Van Loo to score the try after 10 minutes.
Within minutes a Cockroft penalty from 30 metres closed the gap and from their restart Durham won possession and mauled into the home 22 metres only for Crocs forwards to steal the ball, fast hands releasing wing Leigh Thomas and he raced the length of Broomfield, chased hard by the visiting defender, to score a great try in the corner, Ed Cockroft’s touchline goal attempt hitting the post. However the advantage was only temporary, Durham levelling soon after with an Armstrong penalty for 8 - 8.
An Arnie Stevenson kick made yards to the home 22 metre line where Crocs knocked forward giving away the scrum from which No 9 Armstrong broke blind for Stevenson to cut through down the wing He was well stopped by Danny Booth, but quick recycling enabled flanker Jeff Roberts to score in the corner, Armstrong’s conversion giving Durham a 15-8 half time lead.
Crocs opened the second half brightly, big charges from centre Neil Richardson set up by Ott’s quick hands, and followed through by full back Seymour winning a penalty for Cockroft to convert from 30 metres narrowing the gap to 15-11.
Rob Oliver, home from the Marines, caught the long restart and charged to halfway, supported by No 8 Simon Normanton feeding Danny Booth whose grubber kick gave wing Thomas a chase but Durham found touch close to their line.
Crocs line out functioned well, and Seymour’s charge to the posts was halted but centre Jack Hammond rescued the ball, slipping a pass to wing captain Wainwright in field to be pulled down short of the line.
Neil Richardson’s big tackle then stopped a certain try before the Crossleyans line was saved again, the referee adjudging a crossing move.
Ed Cockroft’s 40 metre penalty cleared the line but only temporarily as Durham’s pack powered back on attack, big No 8 Johnson side stepping through but heroic tackles from prop Moloney and hooker Cooper stopped the threat.
Durham’s line out created more pressure, flanker Booth assisting Andy Day in a double stop tackle.
Crocs had now to defend their own line desperately in a series of scrums, but the set piece held well under pressure, locks McGill and Kavanagh holding back the big Durham eight man shove.
Crossleyans were struggling to get out of their own half, but eventually a long Ott punt gained a line out on the visitors 22 metre line. Lock Kavanagh’s catch was negated by a not straight ruling by the referee. Prop Dave Maloney exchanged places with Andrew Wills and the ensuing scrum held well but Durham cleared to half way.
Crocs line out ball sped wide across to midfield finding the inside run of wing Wainwright who wriggled through tackles to 20 metres out but an offside penalty was awarded against Durham on halfway.
Crocs returned to the attack but no way through could be found, the team having to settle for the losing bonus point and leaving Old Crossleyans in the bottom three with a long winter ahead.