Old Crossleyans maintained their recent impressive away record in Yorkshire Two, snatching a last play 23-20 victory over Wetherby at a bitterly cold Grange Park.
When Wetherby converted a penalty entering stoppage time to reclaim the lead Crocs were facing defeat. But Jack Hammond’s late, late try deep into added on time gave them the victory and left Wetherby with only a losing bonus point for their efforts.
The top five teams in the league all won so Crocs remain in third place with this bonus point victory.
Their performance, at times, lacked the necessary composure with mistakes resulting in a misfiring effort.
Moments of individual excellence crafted the win but credit must be given for grinding out a victory when defeat was staring them in the face.
The deadlock was broken on the quarter hour with Crocs taking the lead. Wetherby knocked on close to their line, Ryan Hammond picked up at the back of the scrum and Billy Hammond, on his return from injury, was in support to touch down in the right hand corner.
The conversion was missed and Wetherby replied immediately. Awarded a scrum 20 metres out they also worked the short side. Jack Kaye found space to run into and touched down. A fine conversion gave them a 7-5 lead.
When a Wetherby clearance kick was charged down Crocs were awarded a penalty for obstruction. They took the quick tap and Joe Gallagher’s astutely judged kick to the corner found Billy Hammond who gathered securely to score his second try. The missed conversion meant the lead was restricted to 10-7.
Approaching half time, Kolade Bobo burst through the midfield and found support from Ryan Hammond and Cameron Brannan. Crocs were awarded a penalty but declined to go for the three points.
Somewhat typical of the performance they lost possession and Wetherby cleared deep downfield only for Crocs to fail to secure the ball.
Fortunately, Wetherby knocked on in sight of the try line but the home team had the final word of the first half, forcing turnover ball and Crocs were penalised, had a man yellow carded and a series of scrums eventually resulted in George Gilbert burrowing over the try line to give Wetherby a slim 12-10 half time lead.
A second half Joe Gallagher penalty from 35 metres out restored the lead only for Wetherby to regain the advantage with a try on 55 minutes.
From a penalty they kicked to the corner. The initial drive was held up but when the ball was spun wide Andrew Trotman was able to stretch out to score in the corner. The conversion was missed but they led 17-13.
When Crocs kicked into Wetherby territory, following a penalty for offside, they again spilled the ball in a promising position, continuing to frustrate the travelling support.
But Billy Hammond showed strength and pace to break the Wetherby cover down their left flank. The field position resulted in a further penalty and a piece of individual brilliance from Kolade Bobo saw him breach the defence in an arcing run to the try line from 30 metres out.
With five minutes to play the lead was 18-17. Cue the excitement of the closing minutes. Crocs needed to run the clock down by building phases of possession but were penalised in front of the posts.
Mattie Chappel held his nerve and landed the kick to give Wetherby what appeared to be a match winning 20-18 advantage.
But Crocs still had time to patiently recycle the ball and take play into the Wetherby half. From a penalty, Jack Hammond spotted a gap and the returning captain sprinted to touch down and secure an unlikely but precious victory.