Old Crossleyans returned to winning ways and the top of Yorkshire One following a 33-28 home win over Pontefract in an entertaining match.
Crocs had secured the bonus point by half time with some excellently worked tries. Pontefract came back strongly in the second half when their pack gained the upper hand but were unable to convert their dominance of territory and possession into points.
Crocs scored their fifth try with 15 minutes to play, to settle any nerves, before two late tries gave Pontefract two bonus points to reward their second half performance.
Crocs made a number of changes after the defeat at Moortown. Navneet Sembi started at loose head prop and Manny Riaz in the second row. Joel McFarlane returned at inside centre and Josh Hunt made his debut on the left wing.
Pontefract started impressively, playing with great intensity, and took the lead after five minutes. A cut out pass found Richard Dedicoat in space and he touched down in the corner. An excellent touchline conversion was added.
Callum Dunne surged into the Pontefract half but a Crocs lineout throw in the corner was not straight, then Rob Oliver knocked on as he reached out to plant the ball over the line.
The attacking was maintained and after 18 minutes Ben West sprinted through a gap and Joe Gallagher’s cross-field kick was collected by Hunt, who charged for the line. Several phases later, and amidst some confusion, Oliver gathered the ball and scored in the corner. Dunne’s conversion levelled the scores.
From the restart, ‘Boj’ Sembi’s crunching tackle forced a turnover. A penalty drifted wide but midway through the half Ryan Hammond burst out of a tackle and brother Billy forced his way over despite the attentions of several defenders. Dunne’s conversion made it 14-7.
Another flowing backline move and scoring opportunity was halted when Hunt was tackled into touch but the third try came on the half hour when West caught an astutely judged diagonal kick from Joe Gallagher and touched down in the corner.
The conversion was missed but the bonus point was secured four minutes later when excellent support play led to Oliver’s second. Dunne’s conversion stretched the lead to 24-7 and completed a four-try blitz in 15 minutes.
Approaching half time, Pontefract broke through the midfield defence and Callam Watts, up in support, touched down and added the conversion. The deficit could have been reduced further had a penalty been landed with the last action of the half.
Whereas the first half was controlled by Crocs, it was Pontefract who dominated possession and territory after the interval. They spread the ball to both flanks and their pack was on top. They were awarded a series of
penalties, choosing the scrum option on each occasion. Crocs had a man yellow carded and the pressure was relentless but the storm was eventually weathered.
Crocs increased their lead with 15 minutes left. Joe Stott unlocked the defence with a splendid pass to release Hunt for his second try in the corner. Dunne’s conversion pushed the lead out to 31-14 but Pontefract controlled the closing minutes.
Jack Beddis ran on to a crash ball to touch down by the posts and, after Martin Hamer had set up an attacking position at the other end, Pontefract established an attacking platform deep in the Crocs half which eventually resulted in Josh Hough touching down for another converted try.