McGill and Cooper handed key roles for Crocs

THE absences of locks Chris Wood and Simon Normanton have added to the size of Old Crossleyans’ task at home to high-flying Wheatley Hills tomorrow.

The pair are on holiday and that is a major blow to a Broomfield side clinging on to their North One East place by their finger tips, against a South Yorkshire side renowned for their strength up front.

In-form Kev McGill and James Cooper, son of former county player Howard, will wear the number four and five shirts for a game skipper James Wainwright regards as a make or break contest for his side.

“If we don’t win this weekend we are out of it really,” said Wainwright, who would be far from surprised if fellow strugglers Old Brodleians were to beat Durham and Morpeth were to account for their visitors Gateshead.

The fact that Morpeth picked up two points from a home draw with Malton and Norton last weekend was a blow to Crocs, who nevertheless bridged some of the gap to the sides above them with a 51-20 home win over doomed Team Northumbria.

“We did what we needed to do last week and got our fourth try for the bonus point just after half time,” said Wainwright.

“It will be a totally different test against Wheatley Hills because they are quite physical and going for a play-off spot behind Billingham.”

Crocs are unchanged in the backs - player-coach Chris Jones is still not over a knee problem - so they may try to play an expansive game with their pack lighter and more mobile than normal.

Drying conditions may help and the onus will be on a solid front row of Andy Day, Richard Wheale and Dave Maloney to provide set piece ball.

Hills won the first meeting 24-0 on November 12 but their recent record suggests they are not in as good form now as they were earlier.