Leaders Heath suffer derby defeat at Crocs but stay top of Yorkshire One

Crocs and Heath do battle
Crocs and Heath do battle

Heath stay top of Yorkshire One despite a 15-10 derby reverse against Old Crossleyans at Broomfield.

In a tough, dour contest, Dave Harrison’s visitors trailed 5-0 at the break and ultimately had to settle for a losing bonus point, which keeps them two points clear of Old Brodleians on the league ladder.

The first scrum of the game brought a loud cheer from the home supporters when Crocs pushed the much larger Heath pack backwards, but the visitors re-grouped immediately and quickly gained the dominance they had expected up front.

The first quarter of the game was spent in the Crocs 22 and Heath turned down three kickable penalty opportunities in favour of kicking into the corner and trying to muscle their way over the line.

However, they got an early opportunity to see the determination and quality of the home team’s defence and may have regretted not taking the points when they were on offer.

Reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes when one of their players questioned young referee George Ounsley, scrum half Ed Cockcroft kicked Crocs into the corner and from the resulting short line-out Cameron Brannan was driven over the try line. Cockcroft slipped on his run up for the conversion, but the Crocs had a 5-0 lead.

Stand off Joe Gallagher took advantage of the breeze, keeping Heath penned back in their own half with some astute kicking from hand as mid-table Crocs went into half time in front.

Heath started the second half in the ascendency aided by some strong running from second row Saif Boussadda and replacement prop Ollie Cook.

Ezra Hinchliffe was unlucky when his penalty attempt from 40 metres hit the bar and bounced clear, but Hinchliffe converted a penalty opportunity soon after to cut the gap to 5-3.

Strong bursts from Crocs forwards Joel Lemmink, Ellis Nuttall and Sam Ives put them on the attack and strong work at the ruck was rewarded when the outstanding Billy Hammond scorched through the visitors last line of defence to score.

Cockcroft impressively added the extras and the Crocs were two scores ahead at 12-3.

Further pressure just after the restart led to another Crocs penalty and Cockcroft increased the lead to 15-3.

Heath responded by kicking into touch from a penalty near the Crocs line, but Luke Sturman ripped the ball clear to relieve the pressure and further attacks by Heath were thwarted by some fine tackling in midfield by captain Jack Hammond.

The league leaders were desperate to salvage something from the game and the final play of the afternoon saw speedy winger Callum Harriet-Brown diving in at the corner, Hinchliffe converting from the touchline giving the visitors a losing bonus point.