Old Crossleyans fought hard to earn a bonus point in a 16-13 defeat at home to fifth-placed Roundhegians in Yorkshire One.
The visitors dominated possession and territory and will be disappointed to have not won by a larger margin.
However, credit must be given to the defensive performance by the Crocs. Though the visitors constantly made inroads through the midfield, the home team held firm when defending their line.
George Campbell and Joe Wilkinson made their debuts at full back and outside centre respectively. Luke Sturman returned in the back row and Ryan Sweeney came back in on the left wing.
Roundhegians took the lead after five minutes when Alex Jones slotted a penalty when Crocs were offside.
A few minutes later Crocs took the lead. From a line out deep in Roundhegians territory, following a penalty award, the ball was quickly recycled and spread along the back line.
Wilkinson, possibly with his first touch, cut inside and showed impressive pace to touch down under the posts. Sweeney converted for 7-3.
The pattern for the afternoon was soon established with Roundhegians dominating possession.
The lead was reduced midway through the half when Jones was successful with a penalty having hit the post with an earlier attempt.
Crocs had to dig in to stem the visitors’ pressure and a combination of rugged defence and unforced errors from Roundhegians helped maintain the lead until the half hour, when a Jones penalty gave them a 9-7 lead.
The Crocs response was immediate. Roundhegians were penalised for not retiring from a tap penalty and Sweeney restored the lead with the place kick now in range.
Crocs were punished on the stroke of half time. A penalty kick failed to find touch and Roundhegians surged downfield. A yellow card for killing the ball reduced the Crocs to 14 men and the pressure told when Jonny Dobson came in at pace on an angled run to touch down between the posts. The simple conversion gave the visitors a 16-10 interval lead.
On 46 minutes Sweeney converted a penalty to reduce the margin to 16-13 and this was to be the end of the scoring.
The pattern of the first half continued with Roundhegians striving to breach the tenacious home defence.
A try was ruled out for a forward pass and the visitors were again denied a score when an astute kick down the right flank was not cleanly gathered, resulting in a knock on.
Crocs’ defensive effort was highly impressive. Roundhegians stretched the home line on both flanks but the line held firm and the visitors were penalised in quick succession for not releasing the ball in the tackle.
Entering the final minutes Chris Harries produced an eye catching run deep into Roundhegians territory to threaten an unlikely win. However, the referee spotted a forward pass later in the move and there was to be no smash and grab at the end of the contest.
Overall, it was another encouraging display from Crocs but narrow home victories for two of their rivals near the foot of the table, West Park Leeds and Old Grovians, didn’t help their cause.
A trip to 100 per cent leaders Moortown next week will be a huge test of their new-found spirit and confidence.