Old Crossleyans 71
Three wins from five in North One East represents a flying start to the season by Old Crossleyans’ standards.
The traditional slow beginners, who have mounted late and successful survival bids in the last two campaigns, looked mean and hungry as they swept aside Darlington at Broomfield this afternoon.
The promoted visitors have picked up only two losing bonus points so far and, after promising to make a contest of it for almost half an hour, they were cut to ribbons by Crocs’ fluid, attack-from-anywhere style of play.
Chris Jones’s hosts had only a try from Billy Hammond, converted by the other winger Gareth Sweeney, to show for their efforts in the first quarter.
Darlington, whose burly pack perhaps shaded the set pieces, were well in the game at that stage and like Crocs turned down penalty points in search of a try.
However, Billy Hammond’s second touch down on 29 minutes, while the visitors had a man in the sin-bin, opened the floodgates and Crocs had their four-try bonus point in the bag, along with a 26-0 lead, by the 37-minute mark.
Apart from the three Sweeney conversions in the first half, it was very much the Hammonds show with brothers Jack and Ryan following Billy over the whitewash.
The yellow carding of home skipper James Wainwright allowed Darlington to get the try their forward effort deserved from close range on the stroke of half time, burly prop Joe Oselton getting the congratulations and fly-half Mark Baldwin spearing over an excellent conversion to make it 26-7.
It was one-way traffic in the second half and Darlington, limited in the backs and increasingly missing tackles, were run ragged by Crocs, who made few handling errors and produced some great support play.
Replacement back Leigh Thomas came on at half time and scored 25 points from tries on 44, 61 and 66 minutes plus five conversions.
In between Thomas’s first and second tries there were two in three minutes from impressive centre Jack Hammond and open side Wainwright, who sped in following good work from barnstorming No 8 Ryan Hammond.
Thomas’s hat-trick score and conversion made it 57-7 and it was left to Billy Hammond to complete his three-timer and fullback Joe Baker to hammer the final nail in the coffin of the dispirited visitors.
There were fine performances across the park from Crocs, who must have been particularly pleased with the service provided by young scrum half Chris Vine and the enthusiasm and work rate of lock Kevin McGill.