Day of destiny for local rivals up the A1

OLD Crossleyans skipper James Wainwright has urged his in-form side to complete the job tomorrow and save their North East One skins at Old Brodleians’ expense.

The Crocs will be looking to complete another great escape by making it five wins on the trot in their final match away to Morpeth.

If they win they will condemn the Woodhead men to the drop, irrespective of how the Brods fare in their match at Northern.

The Crocs leapfrogged their derby rivals on a day of contrasting fortunes last Saturday. Wainwright’s men had a superb 19-12 home win over Billingham to move two points ahead of the Brods, who surrendered a seven point lead over visitors Morpeth, losing 25-23 to a try in added time.

Wainwright said: “We’re not taking anything for granted. We want to win and stay up in style.”

The utility player, currently at open side flanker, was delighted with last weekend’s win against a strong Billingham side.

He was particularly pleased to prevent the table-toppers from scoring in the second half, which Crocs “won” 6-0.

Looking at his side’s situation in comparison to the Brods in the battle to avoid the third-from-bottom position, Wainwright said: “We have got the advantage.

“A few weeks ago I thought our last fixture might be a straight shoot-out between us and Morpeth to decide who goes down.

“There is a bit less pressure now with Morpeth looking safe and we just need to perform as we have done for the last four weeks.”

Crocs haven’t a great away record but won at Durham last time out and take a very strong 18 with injured player-coach Chris Jones the only absentee.

Ed Cockroft returns at scrum half for Will Travis, who slotted in superbly last week. Cockroft will take over the kicking duties from Leigh Thomas, who kicked five out of five last week.

The rest of the team is unchanged by prop Mark Palmer returns on the bench alongside Chris Seymour and possibly Kev McGill, who hopes to get away from work in time.

The Brods must hope that Morpeth can do them a favour and that they can beat Northern. It will be no easy task for coach Ian Armitage to lift his players after last week.

Former skipper Ollie Akroyd said Brods would be giving it everything in an effort to atone for the defeat six days ago.

“We need to ensure that if we take the lead, as we have done in many games, that we keep going for the full 80 minutes and take the points,” he said.

“It’s up to us now and we’re also relying on Morpeth, but it won’t be the end of the world (if we go down). We will just have to bounce back and target this league again and take into it what we have learned.”

Akroyd said Brods could be unchanged if scrum half Joe Armitage, son of coach Ian, was able to shake off a shoulder injury against opponents who have been in good form recently.