Chris Vine’s try in the closing seconds clinched a 28-20 home victory over Morpeth and helped Old Crossleyans end a five-match losing run in North East One.
The winger dived over wide on the right to complete an 18-point haul and snuff out the visitors’ second half fightback.
A Crocs side lacking the likes of Ryan and Billy Hammond, Chris Jones, Neil Richardson and Manny Riaz, welcomed back lock Chris Wood and stand off Gareth Ott for their first home game of 2014.
They also gave a debut to Ollie Coyne in the back row and he emerged with plenty of credit, as did Vine and veteran centre Chris Seymour.
On a still, damp and grey afternoon, a couple of Crocs’ familiar problems were apparent again - the lack of a kicker to clear danger and a stuttering lineout.
But they did just enough to see off a relegation-threatened Morpeth side who had ended a seven game losing sequence with victory over Pocklington the previous weekend.
After a fairly even opening, Seymour’s fine diagonal kick to touch near the corner and a Morpeth knock on from the lineout led to the opening score on 16 minutes.
Ott went close from a five metre scrum and from the next one fullback Joe Baker broke a tackle and touched down just to the left of the posts.
Vine converted and then struck a 40 metre penalty after prop Mark Palmer had caught and made ground from the restart.
Morpeth ate in Crocs’ 10-point advantage with penalties from their young stand off Kieran Brown on 28 and 32 minutes.
However, Crocs stretched into a 17-6 lead with a converted try seconds before referee Steve Penfold’s whistle for half time.
Unusually, it was a text book penalty to the corner followed by a lineout catch and drive from the Crocs. Ott’s kick was perfect, Tony Oxley made the catch and fellow back rower James Wainwright came up with the ball after a mighty forward surge.
Vine’s superb conversion from the touchline left Crocs feeling pleased with themselves but Morpeth did their best to wipe the smile off home faces after the break.
Crocs conceded a plethora of penalties in the second half while Morpeth’s forwards retained possession better than their home counterparts and asked some serious questions of the home defence.
The visitors picked up five points on 46 minutes when hooker Iain Menzies surged over following a tap penalty.
Vine pulled a penalty wide but made it 20-11 with an easy kick on 52 minutes, only for Brown to reply four minutes later.
At 20-14 it was all to play for and Crocs, who had suffered injuries to Oxley and Palmer, were fearing another narrow home defeat when Jack Hammond was yellow carded on the hour.
Crocs survived the immediate threat when Morpeth’s lineout close to the home line was not straight and the Broomfield men dug in, aided by Ott’s fine touch-finder.
Back came Morpeth and Brown closed the gap to three points with seven minutes left.
Crocs appeared to draw a line in the sand at that stage. They pushed Morpeth off the ball at a maul and earned an easy penalty for Vine to make it 23-17.
Morpeth wouldn’t line down and Brown’s fifth penalty seemed certain to give them a losing bonus point at least.
However, deep into added time Seymour again made ground from Ott’s slightly-delayed flat pass and Vine beat off two tacklers to seal victory.