Crocs just miss out in thrilling clash

Sheffield 18 Old Crossleyans 12

Once again a weakened Crocs side pushed one of the leading sides in North One East all the way before just failing to grab at least a share of the spoils.

Although all the points came from the boot it was still an entertaining, nail-biting game with Crocs acquitting themselves well against their South Yorkshire hosts.

The home side, who included former Halifax hooker Carl Mortimer and fellow veteran John Dudley in their ranks, played hard, forceful rugby as they attempted to batter through the opposition.

Meanwhile, Crocs produced a different approach as their skilful passing game caused a threat.

Even without big lock Kev McGill and No8 Ryan Hammond, Crocs still matched the home side as they put their bodies on the line.

On a mild day and a dry pitch it was the hosts who put the first points on the board. Crocs had threatened from a lineout through Gareth Sweeney but the referee blew for an offence on the 22 and No 10 Mark Ireland stepped up to post his first three points of the afternoon.

Crocs were back on terms when they attacked through captain James Wainwright and fly half Gareth Ott, who broke up the middle supported by centres Jack Hammond and Chris Seymour.

The ball was recycled across the field and Crocs won a penalty in front for wing Sweeney to level at 3-3.

Scrum half Chris Vine was next to show as he broke four tackles on a burst to halfway, and as the attack progressed to the home 22 Joe Baker was played in but the ball was spilled.

From a Crocs lineout Raman Sembi fed Vine who broke through to midfield. Ott, supported by Jack Hammond, raced into the home half but again the ball failed to go to hand.

Sheffield then threatened but big defence, aided by prop Mark Palmer’s steal and drive, saw the ball shipped to Sweeney who broke through only to be brought back for a scrum on halfway following an earlier knock-on.

Both sides worked hard to create openings and were thwarted at the last on a number of occasions before Sheffield edged ahead again shortly before the break through Ireland’s 40 metre penalty.

Crocs were in trouble again when lineout ball to Sembi was lost with Ott on hand to stop the home charge.

Sheffield continued to press and Seymour’s copy-book tackle caused a spilled ball which Will Clayton ran back upfield. Supporting lock Tony Oxley then beat three tackles after which Crocs won a penalty which Sweeney kicked to level things up at 6-6 at half-time.

End to end kicks opened the second period and again both sides tested each other out with skirmishes close to the line.

Crocs missed the chance to edge ahead when a Sweeney penalty in front bounced back off a post and Sheffield took advanatge when Ireland landed another kick from 30 metres for 9-6.

He repeated the dose soon after but Crocs showed good character and when Clayton’s charge set up a penalty Sweeney slotted it over for 12-9.

Sheffield returned to the attack, but the Crocs defence held only for the hosts to be awarded another penalty and Ireland duly obliged.

Crocs were still taking the game to Sheffield and Ott and Jack Hammond earned a penalty which allowed Sweeney to claw three points back at 15-12.

With little time left Crocs went in search of at least a draw with big attacks criss-crossing the field.

However, the Sheffield defence responded well and the home side broke away, winning the first penalty of the afternoon for offside which saw Ireland complete the scoring.

Crocs still had something to offer and when Jones was taken out in the air at a lineout, and the Sheffield player yellow-carded, they laid siege to the line through a series of scrums but the home side were able to hold out.