Crocs stay top with derby win

Martin Hamer
Martin Hamer

For a team that are stuttering and staggering to wins, according to their coach, Old Crossleyans are doing very nicely thank you.

The Broomfield men retained top spot in Yorkshire One with another five-point haul courtesy of a 26-5 win away to derby rivals Old Rishworthians today.

The outcome was never in doubt after early scores from forwards Martin Hamer and Jack Pilcher had helped the visitors into a 12-0 lead.

Injury-hit and struggling Rishworthians had plenty of possession and territory after that but became the latest side to find Crocs’ defence devilishly difficult to crack.

Visiting coach Gareth Greenwood said: “It is good to come away with a win but we are not quite showing what we are about. We have another couple of notches to go up.”

He said the lineouts and scrums remained “a massive issue”, in spite of considerable efforts on the training ground.

“We are struggling with the technical bits and ending up at our own end of the pitch a lot.”

While Crocs have eight wins from nine outings, Rishworthians have only two successes from the same number of games.

Their player-coach, hooker Chris Stone, felt his side had given the visitors too much respect early on but had stuck to the task and dug deep.

He praised young back rowers Ethan Pollard and Toby Muscat-Baron and said he had no relegation concerns at this stage.

“If we play like that week in week out we won’t have to worry,” he said.

Rishworthians had completed a double the last time the pair had met in Yorkshire Two a couple of seasons ago but Crocs, handling confidently, were soon prising the Peter Lighting Trophy from their grasp.

Hamer supported good work from Josh Hunt and Billy Hammond wide on the left to plunge over the try line inside three minutes.

When Crocs’ young prop Jack Pilcher forced his way over near the foot of the right-hand post after 11 minutes and fullback Callum Dunne added the conversion, Rishworthians were facing a long and tricky afternoon.

However, play was centred in the Crocs’ half for the best part of 20 minutes after that.

Errors at the lineout and breakdown frustrated the Copley men and visiting scrum half Joe Stott, the best player on the field, launched two attacks which might have yielded further points for the visitors.

Doug Heseltine’s superb tackle on fellow wingman Josh Hunt foiled the more dangerous of the raids.

Rishworthians’ best spell of handling was rewarded three minutes before the break when centre Jack Fairbank shoved off the final defender on the try line.

Josh Kelly, who had missed an earlier penalty, was unable to add the conversion and Crocs quickly returned to the other end where Ellis Nuttall knocked on with the line gaping but replacement forward ‘Boj’ Sembi made no mistake from Stott’s clever reverse pass. Dunne converted for 5-19.

Crocs soaked up pressure throughout an unremarkable third quarter. Kelly missed another penalty and his sin-binning on 67 minutes enabled the visitors to advance.

Replacement winger Gareth Sweeney had a try ruled out for a forward pass but home fullback Sam Bake’s ill-advised attempt to clear his lines via a chip and chase only led to Crocs centre Joel McFarlane exploiting space to score the bonus point try entering the last 10 minutes. Dunne converted.

The home side pushed for a late score. Luke Flanagan’s break was followed by a cross-field kick which was just too strong for centre Ben Hinsley and lock Fraser Swarbrooke then almost made it to the posts, Stott earning a yellow card.