New boys just grand for Crocs, says skipper

Old Crossleyans skipper James Wainwright has praised the contribution of the new faces in the Broomfield side this season.

Crocs take a breather tomorrow after 10 consecutive Saturdays of action in North One East, which have have yielded six wins and a draw.

Crocs strengthened their record with a 36-10 home win over Middlesbrough last week to stay a highly-creditable fourth in the table.

Player-coach Chris Jones, in-form No 8 Ryan Hammond and hard-working hooker Boj Sembi were among those to catch the eye six days ago but Crocs are looking strong across the park.

Chris Vine, a try scorer last weekend, is proving a more than capable replacement for Ed Cockroft at scrum half and Wainwright said Billy Hammond and Tony Oxley were also making their mark.

The scrum also looked rock solid with Mark Palmer back from retirement to deputise for the injured Rory Davis.

Hammond, brother of Ryan and centre Jack, has brought attacking flair and pace to the right while Oxley has joined from Old Rishworthians and helped plug a gap at lock following the retirements of Chris Wood and Simon Normanton.

“We seem to have a stronger squad and the likes of Billy Hammond and Tony Oxley are doing well for us,” said Wainwright.

“It is still early days in the league and we need to keep going but there is now a big gap between us and the bottom.”

The all-amateur Crocs, regular relegation fighters, do not consider themselves promotion candidates and Wainwright confirmed that a top four finish was the target.

Crocs’ latest bonus-point success came courtesy of a tremendous tackling stint in the first half when they held a big Middlesbrough pack at bay

They turned round 10-3 to the good following Vine’s try, which came after Billy Hammond’s touchline dash, and a penalty and conversion from Leigh Thomas.

The home side cut loose after the break, powering into a 36-3 lead by the 69-minute mark with a double from side-stepping stand off Gareth Ott and further tries from Manny Riaz and Thomas, who added two more conversions.

Middlesbrough had the last word with a converted try but Wainwright was able to reflect on another highly-satisfactory performance.

“We left a few tries out there - we bombed three or four chances in the second half - but it was a good result.

“Our defence was strong and we soaked up a lot of pressure. We only conceded a try late on, after we had made changes, and I thought we were the fitter side.”