WHO would have thought it? Brods winning a league match at Broomfield by shunting the home forwards back over their own try line.
It happened twice in the space of a minute late in Saturday’s North One East contest and on the second occasion visiting skipper and No 8 Luke Scrimshaw was awarded a match-winning try, converted in excellent fashion by young stand off Danny Wood.
Early leaders Brods were making it 14 points out of a possible 15 while Crocs had to settle for just a losing bonus point to open their account.
The Crocs forwards have nearly always held sway over their counterparts in recent derby clashes but their scrum in particular is feeling the effects of the retirement of prop Mark Palmer and an injury to long-serving hooker Richard Wheale.
Brods, for their part, are making progress up front, the club shrugging off their latest batch of summer departures by conjuring up some seemingly just as effective replacements from off their junior production line.
With the powerful Scrimshaw leading the way, they just about deserved to avenge a fairly heavy defeat in the corresponding fixture near the end of last season.
Crocs were fighting for their lives at that stage, and they will face another battle to stay in the division unless they can start to get out a settled side and improve.
Player-coach Chris Jones was less than impressed with the display. He elected to walk his dog after pointing the finger of blame at his forwards, following earlier below-par showings this season from the backs.
Brods coach Ian Armitage praised the commitment, effort and tenacity of his players and admitted his surprise at his side’s flying start to the season after a worrying summer.
But victory came at a price with injuries to forwards Oliver Davidson, Callum Thompson, Ryan Harris and Rob Jennings plus winger Louie Butler.
Butler sustained a neck injury in a ruck, delaying the game for 15 minutes in the second half, and the visitors finished with 13 men plus the heavily limping Jennings.
Crocs, forced to shuffle their backs when Gareth Ott didn’t make his expected return at stand off due to injury, dominated the early stages, their cause helped by the sin-binning of visiting blind side Ollie Akroyd after just a couple of minutes.
Jones, whose array of passes and ability to make a break makes him Crocs’ key man in attack, set up a good position for Irish lock James Kavanagh to go close.
Scrimshaw eased the pressure with a diagonal clearance on 11 minutes and the No 8 gave the visitors the lead two minutes later from their first attack, making ground from the back of a scrum and then regaining possession to cross for an unconverted try 15 metres to the right of the posts.
A mis-firing lineout was hindering the Crocs, who fell further behind when Jones was harshly penalised at the breakdown and Wood was on target from just outside the 22.
Fullback Leigh Thomas made it 3-8 with a penalty on 31 minutes and play started to open out.
Visiting scrum half Joe Armitage - son of the coach - combined with Wood and Akroyd in the best move of the match so far and then wily pair Jones and Chris Seymour combined to puncture Brods in midfield but home No 8 Tom Earle was held up at the side of the posts.
However, Crocs pressure late in the half was rewarded with a 10-8 interval lead, Jones’s clever inside pass enabling winger Joe Baker to beat a wrong-footed defence for a try converted by Thomas.
Brods were behind for only three minutes of play. Backs Matt Hoyle and Chris Hartley took the visitors into the home 22 and when an overlap was created on the left, Jennings was unstoppable from close range.
The kick was missed but the visitors maintained their bright start to the second half and prop Thompson almost added to the try tally.
The stoppage while Butler was treated in an ambulance parked in one of the in-goal areas seemed to take the wind out of Brods’ sails for a time and they needed Hoyle to pick off a passing running back close to his own line to thwart Crocs wide on the left.
Hartley was yellow carded - the referee indicated for a trip - and Thomas made it 13-13 with a close-in penalty which went in off an upright.
The injuries began to mount but a lack of numbers didn’t appear to hinder the visitors who bossed the closing stages.
Brods’ forwards suddenly realised they had the upper hand in the mauls and surged for the line. When that initially faided to yield five points, Wood was unsuccessful with a drop goal attempt.
Back came the visiting pack, marching the ball forward at close quarters over 40 metres. The referee was unable to spot the ball in the collapsed pile of bodies over the line but Scrimshaw wasn’t to be denied when the same happened again after a thrust from shorter range soon after.
Wood’s kick extended the lead to seven points and the battered Brods finished on the front foot.