Ilkley push Crocs nearer trap door

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Derby dates - and plenty of them - beckon for Old Crossleyans after their heaviest home defeat of the season yesterday.

The Broomfield men were unable to repeat the heroics of their win over leaders Sheffield three weeks earlier and lost 41-17 to second-placed Ilkley in North One East.

A drop down to Yorkshire One, to join Calderdale rivals Old Brodleians and Heath, now looks almost certain with three games left.

The scoreline may suggest otherwise, but Crocs are going down fighting.

They led 9-5 approaching the 40 minute mark but the visitors scored just before and just after half time to take the initiative. Confident Ilkley then pulled clear with five tries in the last 25 minutes.

On a cool, fine afternoon Crocs welcome back Neil Richardson at centre and Raman Sembi at lock but had to make late changes to the back row when George and Billy Hammond were unfit.

Referee Jordan Wagner was right on the top of the action from the start, setting the tone with a flurry of early penalties.

Home scrum half Chris Vine missed two fairly long, straight shots at goal in the first quarter, his second effort hitting the outside of the left-hand upright.

Crocs lost young prop Reuben Pollard to the sin bin and Ilkley, having been held up over the home try line, drew first blood after 14 minutes when lofty James Spencer rumbled over after catching lineout ball.

Stand off Josh Kimber missed the conversion and Crocs, with a man advantage after visiting winger Ben Magee had been yellow carded, applied enough pressure to earn penalties which scrum half Vine slotted on 22 and 26 minutes for a 6-5 lead.

After an early alarm, the home scrum was now solid but lineout possession continued to be patchy and Crocs’ defence was being found wanting close to the rucks.

Vine added a third penalty on 37 minutes but Ilkley, having over-elaborated on attack for much of the first half, grabbed a second try through Magee on the right after scrum half Tom Collard’s sniping run had taken him close.

Jack Hammond returned Ilkley’s kick off with interest at the start of the second half. However, Crocs coughed up possession near the bottom touchline and Magee was quick to take advantage, sending in supporting centre Alistair Monks.

Vine’s penalty on 51 minutes kept Crocs firmly in the hunt at 12-15 but it became four Crocs penalties to four Ilkley tries on 56 minutes when a long pass gave winger John-Henry Johnson an easy score for the visitors. Kimber’s first conversion success - with two more to follow - brought ironic cheers.

Half-backs Vine and Gareth Ott were leading the home effort but the forwards had no answer to Ilkley’s driving maul over 30 metres just after the hour mark. When Crocs dragged it down a penalty try was awarded. Kimber’s kick extended the gap to 17 points.

Six Nations final-day try fever extended to Broomfield in the last five minutes. Winger Paul Petchey and Kimber crossed for Ilkley while winger Luke Saltonstall replied in between, just when it looked as if Crocs wouldn’t get over the visitors’ line.