Yates hopeful for beaten Crocs

Old Crossleyans missed a good chance to ease their Yorkshire Two relegation fears when beaten 21-16 at home by fellow strugglers Barnsley yesterday.

Sunday, 8th January 2017, 11:11 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 1:03 pm

They fought back from 13-0 down after 30 minutes to lead 16-13, only to concede a try and a penalty in the last 10 minutes.

New coach Ian Yates, in his second game in charge, said: “It is a frustrating result because we have got one point when we could have had four and every point is so valuable.

“Overall I am pleased. We are playing better rugby with more structure and I think the results will come.”

Crocs remain third from bottom with the teams around them - Sheffield Medicals, next Saturday’s hosts Leodiensian, West Park Leeds and Old Grovians - all failing to add to their points tallies.

A much-changed team and an extended festive break, caused by Medicals being unable to raise a team on December 17, meant Crocs took 35 minutes to get going.

With three props unavailable, Gilbert Gregory returned after a lengthy absence from the game in the front row.

After conceding a couple of early penalties through over-enthusiasm he impressed Yates with his scrummaging and work rate.

Centre Joe Wilkinson and replacement winger George Campbell, a couple of Cheshire Colts sent over by coach and former Crocs fullback Rick Smith, helped plug holes in the backs.

A powerful-looking Barnsley side dominated for most of the first half as they looked to follow up their 47-15 success at Shaw Lane in late September.

Stand off Aaron Foye’s easy penalty gave them a third minute lead and strong centre Mark Fisher took advantage of indecisive tackling as he cut inside from the top touchline on a 50 metre diagonal run to score on seven minutes. Foye converted.

Despite the high work rate of James Wainwright and skipper Jack Hammond, Crocs were struggling to get their hands on the ball for more than a few seconds with Barnsley No 8 Dave Reed disruptive at the breakdown.

The returning Ryan Sweeney was short and wide with an ambitious penalty attempt from a rare foray over the half way line.

It took the introduction of Yates’s right hand man, Richard Wheale, to spark the home side to life.

The long-serving hooker has the “x factor”, according to Yates, and his injection of energy and quality spurred the hosts.

The cracks in a Barnsley side who had lost their previous four games soon started to show and winger Gareth Sweeney plunged in under the posts,

Ryan Sweeney converted but then surprisingly missed a 25 metre penalty which would have reduced the gap to three points at the break.

Crocs continued to show more aggression with No 8 Ollie Coyne leading the forward effort and Wheale and Raman Sembi combining well in the lineout.

Stand off Neil Richardson was prompting well and running powerfully while experienced fullback Joe Baker looked sound.

Ryan Sweeney’s sweet left boot rewarded Crocs’ pressure with penalties after 47, 55 and 64 minutes to nose them in front.

In was anyone’s game but when the hosts failed to deal with a deep kick and conceded a scrum near their own line, Barnsley winger Elliott Copley scrambled over for an unconverted try wide out on 71 minutes.

Richardson went close and Crocs moved the ball well near half way to create a chance for youngster Campbell, but he dropped a regulation pass.

Copley picked up and although desperate cover defence stopped him, Crocs conceded a penalty and Foye added three points.

Crocs had one last opportunity, winning a penalty near the Barnsley line, but the visitors held out.