Seven-try Crocs rout strugglers

Actions from the game, Old Crossleyans v Middlesbrough at Broomfield.'Pictured is Billy Hammond
Actions from the game, Old Crossleyans v Middlesbrough at Broomfield.'Pictured is Billy Hammond

Old Crossleyans did what was expected of them yesterday in inflicting a 12th straight defeat of the season on North East One’s bottom club Horden.

The Broomfield men were 49-8 home winners against their visitors from Peterlee in County Durham to register only their third league success of the campaign.

It was a case of ‘job done’ after 25 minutes for the next-to-bottom Crocs on a soggy pitch. They had a four-try bonus point in the bag by then after building a 28-3 lead.

That enabled coach Neil Spence to withdraw the likes of Richard Wheale, Manny Riaz and playmaker Gareth Ott with important games against Alnwick and Bradford and Bingley still to come before Christmas.

Crocs lost some of their fluency as a result but could still feel satisfied with try doubles for winger Adam Sutcliffe, fullback Ben Greaves and Billy Hammond, who started in the back row but finished playing at centre outside his brother Jack.

Quicksilver Chris Vine also crossed the line and converted all seven tries in an impressive display.

Promoted Horden, with only one losing bonus point to show for their efforts so far, have a big, competitive pack.

Just why they have been conceding an average of almost 50 points per game became apparent as soon as Crocs started to move the ball wide at speed.

The visitors were easily outflanked and run ragged, Sutcliffe setting the ball rolling on four minutes after Crocs had snapped up possession from a poor Horden kick.

Billy Hammond, who looked to have benefitted from a spell playing rugby league with Siddal, slipped the ball away nicely for Greaves to surge in for the second try on eight minutes.

Horden had their first spell in possession and when Navneet Sembi was penalised in front of his own posts on 13 minutes, David Mason took the chance to pull back three points for the visitors.

Normal service was resumed when Vine stood up superbly in the tackle and off-loaded to the supporting Sutcliffe for the winger’s second on 22 minutes.

When the marauding Billy Hammond set up Greaves to go in 15 metres to the right of the posts and Vine added his fourth conversion, the home men were out of sight.

Horden bossed the closing stages of the first half. Having gone close through their open side flanker, they gained their reward when lock Paul Malcolm ploughed over from close range following a penalty kicked into the corner.

The break came at the right time for Crocs, who resumed back on the front foot with Vine weaving his way through and finishing with a flamboyant swallow dive behind the posts. He converted for a 35-8 scoreline on 42 minutes.

Lock Navneet Sembi was running strongly down the middle but Crocs were beginning to haemorrhage their own lineout ball - a familiar failing.

However, the home side’s line speed in defence was excellent throughout and Horden, increasingly desperate in the backs, had a pass picked off by experienced Chris Seymour, who sent Billy Hammond away from half-way as the lead moved out to 42-8 on 51 minutes.

The game petered out in the last quarter, frequent stoppages enabling Horden’s tiring forwards to get their breath back and restrict the damage.

Crocs might have had a couple more tries - from an interception and a driving maul - had the referee played advantage instead of bringing them back for penalties.

They had to settle for a final try in the game’s last act from Billy Hammond, one of a handful of players queueing up to score.