Old Crossleyans were unable to reproduce the exuberant and stylish play of last week’s win against West Leeds as they slipped to a 24-12 loss at Keighley in Yorkshire One.
Lacklustre Crocs could point to unforeseen circumstances which clearly influenced the result. Several changes had to be made to the starting line up because of unavailability and they lost the services of three players to injury.
Billy Hammond and James Davies had to leave the field midway through the first half and Martin Hamer retired with a serious looking ankle injury in the second half.
It all started so well. Crocs took the lead after only four minutes with a try of real quality. Chris Vine retrieved the ball deep in his own ‘22’ and broke through the midfield cover to half way. Josh Hunt and Callum Dunne exchanged a series of passes which turned the Keighley defence inside out enabling the full back to touch down. Joe Gallagher’s successful conversion gave Crocs a 7-0 lead.
Keighley drew level midway through the half. Having put the Crocs’ defence under intense pressure accumulating the phases, a cut out pass found Declan Hampson in space. The hooker had an unopposed run to the line between the posts and Jack Atkinson’s conversion levelled the scores.
The rest of the half was unremarkable with few attacking opportunities for either team, but Keighley started the second half immediately on the offensive and scored two tries in the opening seven minutes to put daylight between the two sides.
The first came after only two minutes when Crocs kicked possession away inviting the home team to build the phases. Their patience was rewarded when Will McLaughlin touched down in the corner.
Minutes later, slack tackling allowed Keighley to carry the ball deep into Crocs’ territory and a back line move saw Richard Tillotson score wide out on the right flank. Both conversions were missed but Keighley led 17-7.
Crocs had an excellent opportunity to reduce the arrears with a flowing move which saw backs and forwards combining effectively. Unfortunately, with the line seemingly open and with players in support, Keighley’s scrambling defence held up the move and Crocs were penalised for not releasing. Shortly after, Joe Gallagher’s attempted penalty hit the post and Keighley had retained their 10 point advantage.
Having withstood this period of pressure, Keighley then stretched the lead with a try midway through the half. Breaking from their own half and slicing through the midfield cover, a flowing move resulted in Sean Kelly scoring by the posts. The bonus point had been secured and the successful conversion made it 24-7.
The Crocs’ response was immediate and, despite the disruption created by the catalogue of injuries, they went downfield and scored.
Having been awarded a penalty for offside within the Keighley ‘22’, they took the tap option and executed a series of pick and go drives which resulted in Joel Lemmink crashing over the line to score his first try for the club.
Frustratingly, the restart was fumbled but Keighley were pushed off their own scrum feed. Chris Vine sprinted away from the defence down the left wing but lacked support.
Entering stoppage time it was Keighley who controlled possession and territory. They were awarded a penalty for a deliberate knock on and kicked to the corner.
Crocs finished on the attack, looking to break out of their own half in search of a try which would salvage a losing bonus point, but it was not to be.