Ryan kicks Crocs to key win
Improving Old Crossleyans returned from Crag Lane with a crucial 12-6 victory against Leodensians, claiming four precious points in their battle against relegation.
The Yorkshire Two fixture had been a victim of the weather the previous weekend.
The match was played under leaden skies and a persistent fine drizzle. In truth, it was an attritional battle amongst the forwards and a rather dour affair.
However, the defensive effort by Crocs was excellent and provided the foundations for Ryan Sweeney to score his decisive penalty kicks.
Richard Jowett’s returned at fly half and further experience was provided by starts for Richard Wheale at hooker and Neil Richardson at inside centre.
Early pressure paid off after three minutes when Leos were adjudged offside and Sweeney landed the first of his four penalty kicks.
He slotted over his second on 12 minutes when the hosts were again offside.
Leos responded strongly and began to dominate possession. They took a quick tap penalty but strong defence created turnover ball and Richardson cleared.
Ed Farmer reduced the lead with a penalty on 20 minutes and Leos drew level on the half hour when he landed his second penalty following a high tackle.
Crocs lost Wheale to injury and the momentum was with Leodensians. Only a combination of rugged tackling and spilled ball kept the scores level as the half ended.
Crocs began the second half on the front foot. Sweeney slotted a superb penalty from just inside his own half to edge the lead out to 9-6.
James Wainwright charged down a Leos’ kick, creating confusion in the home ranks, and a further penalty kick fell short.
When a further long range penalty fell agonisingly under the bar the outcome remained on a knife-edge.
Leos pushed Crocs off their own scrum feed and the Leos’ scrum half kicked the ball through a scrambling defence but the last touch was too heavy and the ball went dead.
A Leos penalty hit an upright and the visitors ran the ball out of danger.
Sweeney landed his fourth penalty after 70 minutes and it was to prove decisive.
Leos kicked into the corner in search of a potentially match winning try but Crocs stole the line out ball and excellent midfield defence forced turnover ball and Joe Baker cleared.
Crocs finished strongly and two further penalties were unsuccessful, allowing Leos to claim a deserved losing bonus point.
This may well prove to be a pivotal result in the Crocs’ season. Next week they play West Park Leeds at Broomfield, another side embroiled in a tight relegation fight.
It was a victory ground out in a workmanlike, industrious defensive effort - not thrilling viewing but one celebrated by a large travelling support.