Late try sinks Crocs

Cleckheaton 24 Old Crossleyans 17

Home scrum half Jack Bickerdike’s try with three minutes left, converted by Iain Gordon, enabled Cleckheaton to complete a narrow-margin double over the Crocs.

The Broomfield men thought they had done enough to earn a share of the spoils, having lost 14-12 in the home game in mid-September.

Chris Jones’s side stay fifth in North One East but are now only one point ahead of Cleckheaton after a Moorend contest which produced some good rugby from both teams.

Although the visitors’ points came from two converted penalty tries following forward pressure, they tried to play their expansive game but were thwarted by a home side allowed to push the offside laws to the limit.

The home pack was expected to provide the main threat and Cleckheaton might have scored from a lineout catch and drive in the first minute but spilled the ball.

A Cleckheaton forward was sin-binned for a deliberate knock on and 10 minutes of pressure from the visitors was rewarded when a scrum, advancing from 10 metres out, was broken up illegally by the home side.

Leigh Thomas converted the penalty try for a 7-0 lead and Crocs continued to launch wave after wave of attacks.

Thomas was narrowly off target with two penalty attempts before Gordon missed for Cleckheaton.

Thomas was then short from long range and Cleckheaton made it 7-7 four minutes before half time when Richard Piper scored from a lineout catch and drive wide out and Gordon converted.

Crocs sent on Mark Palmer for Bodge Sembi and Kevin McGill for Manny Riaz and were forced to make a third change when skipper James Wainwright picked up a leg injury, James Cooper taking to the field.

By then Gordon had kicked Cleckheaton 10-7 in front.

Joe Baker was ruled to have been held up over the try line for Crocs, who went 14-10 up on 53 minutes from a five metre scrum. The Cleckheaton front row went up again, the referee signalled a penalty try and Thomas added the goal from in front of the posts.

Gordon missed a penalty but the home side regained the lead on the hour when their forwards drove over in the corner, Richard Piper again getting the try and Gordon adding a fine conversion.

Jones was yellow carded for offending once too much at the breakdown but Crocs were far from finished. Scrum half Chris Vine made a 40 metre break while prop Rory Davis and visiting man of the match Ryan Hammond at No 8 helped put Cleckheaton under the cosh.

A Thomas penalty with 10 minutes left made it 17-17 but Cleckheaton spurned a long-distance penalty chance and took play close to the 22, from where Bickerdike broke through and went past fullback Chris Seymour to score. Gordon’s kick completed the scoring.