Crocs steady the ship at Salem

Old Crossleyans at Bradford Salem' Jack Pilcher
Old Crossleyans at Bradford Salem' Jack Pilcher

Old Crossleyans put the disappointment of the previous week’s defeat to Heath behind them with a hard fought 19-17 win away to Bradford Salem in Yorkshire One.

The match was played under a threatening, leaden sky with driving rain making conditions extremely difficult.

Callum Dunne’s faultless kicking display and one excellently worked try proved decisive but, unsurprisingly given the weather, it was the performance of the pack which laid the foundations for the win.

Often second best against Heath, they responded with an assured performance. The line out functioned effectively and the scrum was much more solid.

The score was level at half time and, despite going behind midway through the second half and having a man yellow carded, they took the lead with two penalties and controlled the final 10 minutes of play.

Salem applied pressure in the opening exchanges but trademark solid defence kept them at bay and Joe Gallagher’s clearance to touch, so effective on many occasions during the match, relieved the pressure.

However, Salem took the lead on 12 minutes with a penalty from Danny Belcher but Dunne made it 3-3 five minutes later.

Defences were on top and scoring opportunities were at a premium. Gallagher found touch with several long clearance kicks, enabling Crocs to eventually establish an attacking platform.

Martin Hamer broke through in midfield but Salem forced turnover ball and took the lead after a period of sustained pressure. Awarded a penalty, they kicked to the corner. Line out ball was secured and following several pick and drives they managed to burrow over under the posts and the conversion gave them a 10-3 lead.

Crocs responded positively and won Salem line out ball but tried to force the passes and offloads and conceded possession.

Fortunately the lesson was learned and approaching half time they produced a move of real quality.

Mark Boothroyd’s strong drive took the ball deep into the Salem 22. The ball was immediately made available and slick passing along the back line enabled Josh Hunt to score in the corner. Dunne’s superb conversion made it 10-10.

Salem laid siege to the Crocs’ try line and were awarded a series of penalties. They declined to kick for goal, choosing instead the scrum option. Crocs had a man yellow carded but stole the ball from the home scrum feed and cleared.

The respite was short lived and Salem regained the lead on 65 minutes, powering over by the posts. They duly converted to take a 17-13 lead.

Crocs were restored to a full complement of players and regained the lead with two further Dunne penalties before astutely retaining possession deep in the opposition half.