Old Crossleyans bounce back with West Leeds victory

Billy Hammond
Billy Hammond

Following last week’s defeat, Old Crossleyans responded with an impressive 31-28 victory over West Leeds to post their first win of the new Yorkshire One season.

Hosts Crocs twice came from behind twice in the first half to hold a narrow lead at half time. An early try in the second half and a near faultless kicking display from Ed Cockroft ensured they never relinquished the lead but West Leeds refused to lie down and scored two further tries to set up a nerve jangling final few minutes of the contest.

Crocs made several changes to last week’s team because of injury and unavailability. Ed Cockroft started at scrum-half on his return to the club with Chris Vine moving out to the right wing. Cam Brannan packed down at hooker and Sam Ives started in the front row while George Hammond and Ben Hinsley formed the second row partnership. Roland Marki and Joel Lemmink started on the bench and were joined by Raman Sembi making his first start of the season.

West Leeds controlled the opening exchanges and they took a deserved lead after seven minutes. They were awarded a series of penalties and set up camp deep in Crocs’ territory. Opting to take the scrum option, the pressure was eventually realised when Duane Smith forced his way over the try line. Keir Breakwell’s conversion gave them a 7-0 lead.

Having been starved of possession Crocs finally got their hands on the ball and they scored their opening try on the quarter hour. James Davies went on a barnstorming run deep into the West Leeds half to set up excellent field position. Jack Hammond then executed a sublime piece of skill when he wrong-footed several defenders with a dummy before cutting inside and sprinting away to touch down between the posts. Ed Cockroft’s conversion levelled the scores.

The parity lasted only a few minutes when uncharacteristically weak tackling in midfield allowed Declan Penny to touch down and the successful conversion restored the visitors’ lead.

Crocs pulled back three points with an Ed Cockroft penalty when West Leeds were penalised for not releasing in the tackle and then just before half time, Billy Hammond linked with Callum Dunne to release Chris Vine who showed a slick turn of pace to touch down in the corner. Ed Cockroft’s attempted conversion brushed the upright, his only miss in an otherwise brilliant exhibition of place kicking, and Crocs led 15-14.

Crocs opened the second half strongly and extended their lead when George Ackroyd finished a flowing move in the corner. Ed Cockroft’s touchline conversion stretched the lead to 22-14.

Ed Cockroft tagged on a couple of penalties to make it 28-14 but West Leeds responded strongly, Ste Anderson scoring a try, improved by Breakwell, to reduce the Crocs’ lead to 28-21.

The home side breathed a sigh of relief when Ed Cockroft kicked a penalty with 10 minutes remaining only for the game to be put back in the balance with a fine score from Eliah Chitiyoh, who cut in from the touchline and regathered his own kick over the Crocs’ defensive line to score a converted try that put them within three points.

However, Crocs held their nerve and saw out the game to claim a welcome win.