Old Crossleyans 30 Northern 20
Crocs completed a North One East double over fellow mid-tablers Northern as they continued their improvement with a worthy win.
Still not at full strength, player-coach Chris Jones a notable absentee with flu, Crocs scored four tries to Northern’s one as they demonstrated their superior skills.
Eagerly anticipated was the clash between the scrum halves with ex-Crocs player Ed Cockroft lining up against his replacement Chris Vine.
Gareth Sweeney had the first shot at the posts but was just wide with a penalty after which Northern were given the chance for a similar attempt which Cockroft landed for a 3-0 lead.
Crocs responded strongly, but a good break involving No 8 Ryan Hammond, prop Rory Davis and wing Joe Baker was well stopped.
Crocs then edged ahead when some forceful play involving No 10 Gareth Ott, skipper James Wainwright and centre Neil Richardson saw the ball reach the Northern five metre line where Ott’s inside pass enabled Sweeney to twist over in the corner for 5-3.
Crocs took Northern’s restart and good hands spread the ball wide but Jack and Ryan Hammond were both stopped short.
The next points weren’t long in coming when a Crocs maul took them to five metres where they won a scrum. Ryan Hammond broke and reached out to touch down, Sweeney converting from wide out for 12-3 after 23 minutes.
Three minutes later Sweeney was just wide with a penalty and when another chance presented itself soon after, scrum half Chris Vine took charge and slotted over for 15-3.
From Northern’s restart Crocs ran the ball back but lost possession, and following a chip and chase from the visiting full back, Crocs were caught offside and Cockroft made no mistake from the penalty after which he repeated the dose for 15-9 just after the half hour.
Crocs then stopped a Northern break and Vine collected the loose ball and broke to the left, curving round the defence to extend the lead to 20-9 at the interval.
Northern started the second half strongly and a lineout on five metres resulted in a catch and drive from which a second row went over for 20-14.
The visitors upped their game and a long kick and chase was well stopped by Sweeney before Ryan Hammond succumbed to an earlier injury and was replaced by Will Clayton with full back Chris Seymour joining the pack.
Crocs returned to the attack and lock Tony Oxley stormed through but was held up.
From the scrum the ball was shipped wide and while Kev McGill was stopped short, Crocs were awarded a penalty and Vine’s kick just crept over to make it 23-14.
Northern pressure led to Cockroft adding another penalty and they reduced the deficit to just three points when the hosts infringed again on their own 22 giving Cockroft another success.
Crocs now upped their game and Oxley was stopped after Northern had spilled the ball while Richardson was almost through only to be penalised for holding on.
Crocs returned Northern’s penalty, winning a lineout on the 22, and from a catch and drive Vine wriggled through for the fourth try - and bonus point - his conversion just creeping inside the post to complete the scoring.