Rochdale 11 Old Crossleyans 10
Old Crossleyans suffered another disappointing narrow defeat as their North One East survival hopes continue to hang by a thread.
The visitors could count themselves a little unlucky as they played their part in an entertaining encounter and dominated large parts of the second period.
However, Crocs were forced into changes yet again which disrupted their rhythm while Rochadale showed the benefit of being able to field a settled side.
Chris Vine was moved into the centre for the injured Neil Richardson with Will Travis returning to the second row.
Luke Gardiner moved to lock to cover for the absent Raman Sembi while Chris Seymour moved to No 8 and Billy Hammond returned to the starting line
Conditions were perfect and for 35 minutes the two teams produced end to end rugby but with no end product.
That changed when the referee decided Will Travis’s tackle was a shoulder charge and Rochdale centre Oliver Coldman landed the straight penalty from 30 metres.
The lead was extended soon after when a swift attacking movement saw the ball move back and forth across the pitch, finally ending on the left wing where an inside pass put centre Jon Mair in at the flag for an 8-0 advantage.
The first half seemed like it was never going to end. However, Crocs used the added time to their advantage.
Rochdale’s clearance was taken by wing Adam Sutcliffe who fed Travis in support.
He found Vine on his inside and he cut through before feeding stand off Gareth Ott whose jinking run ended with him bringing in captain Jack Hammond who crossed by the posts for Vine to convert and cut the deficit to one point.
There was still time for a Rochdale response before the half-time whistle when the hosts were allowed to break weak tackles. Crocs conceded a penalty for not rolling away and Coldman converted to hand Rochdale an 11-7 lead at the interval.
Crocs started the second period on the front foot and a series of tap and go’s from Travis should have brought some reward but Rochdale were able to clear the danger.
Another period of end to end rugby ended with a fracas following a scrum on Rochdale’s 40 metre line. That resulted in a man from each side receiving a yellow card with hooker Richard Wheale the Crocs man forced to sit things out.
The visitors adapted well and closed the gap to one point when they were awarded a penalty which they kicked to touch 30 metres from the home line.
The lineout ball was spread wide and the hosts conceded a penalty for not rolling away which Vine thumped over for 11-10.
Crocs then lost Billy Hammond to a yellow card following a high tackle and the visitors needed to show strong defence as Rochdale looked to capitalise.
When Hammond did return he was injured and replaced by Matt Schofield. Crocs returned to the attack but found their luck was out when Travis made yards but Rochdale gathered and kicked long to touch to relieve the pressure and seal the win.