Crocs let good lead slip

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The hard work put in by the Barnsley faithful in getting the pitch fit for play yesterday paid off as their side registered a 24-22 win over Old Crossleyans.

The hosts hit back from 22-7 down and snatched the spoils with a penalty, meaning Crocs had lost to a late score for the second week running.

In the only game played in Yorkshire Two, home officials were grateful to Crocs for agreeing to play on a pitch which just got the ‘green light’ in freezing conditions.

Fortunately no injuries occurred due to the ground and a good sized crowd were treated to an open, fast game which could be summarised by the old cliché of a game of two halves.

The visitors took the initiative in the early stages when stand off Joe Gallagher, who impressed throughout, made a break before putting Gareth Sweeney away, only for him to be tackled into touch.

Influential home captain and No 8 Reed made a couple of surging runs from the scrum and put down his marker as the main threat to the Crocs.

Debutant Ian Davies, playing his first game of rugby union after signing from Siddal RLFC, showed what a useful asset he could become with several strong tackles.

Kolade Bobo made a telling break and looked a likely scorer until his intended pass went to ground, but referee Kristian Garland brought play back for a penalty and Gallagher put Crocs 3-0 ahead.

Barnsley responded instantly but stand off Appleyard put a penalty wide.

Crocs broke, led by skipper Jack Hammond with an astute kick and crunching tackle. Winger Lewis Sharpe surged through a gap and good ball retention by the forwards resulted in Craig Heppenstall spotting an opening. Gallagher converted and it was 10-0.

Burly Barnsley props Green and Bagnall led the retaliatory home cavalry charge and the latter barged over near the posts, Appleyard converted to narrow the gap to 10-7.

However, more Crocs pressure and the ability to retain possession in the forwards, sorely missing in recent weeks, saw Heppenstall put hooker Cameron Brannan over. Gallagher converted for 17–7.

Sharpe constantly threatened with his breaks and he set up Brannan for his second try of the afternoon and an excellent half for the visitors finished when Raman Sembi plucked a Barnsley lineout throw out of the air and the ball was hoisted into touch.

Sharpe continued to cause concern to the home defence but the ball was lost and play moved quickly back into the visitors’ half and Bagnall brushed off several despairing tackles to bring the home side back into the game with a fine sole try.

From nearly clinching the game, the Crocs were now under pressure and a shoulder injury to Sembi was a telling point as set piece possession started to be lost.

Reed surged past several attempts to bring him to ground before triumphantly banging the ball down over the line, Appleyard’s conversion made it a one point gap.

Barnsley sensed victory and went for the kill, but stout Crocs defence led by player coach Ryan Hammond kept them at bay,

Appleyard tried a drop goal which went wide, but the referee brought play back and awarded Barnsley a penalty in front of the posts. This time he didn’t miss and the visitors were behind for the first time.

The final few minutes were played in the Barnsley half and Crocs were held up just yards from the line before the home side managed to get the ball off the field.