Old Crossleyans preserved their unbeaten home record and top spot in Yorkshire One but were pushed all the way by Beverley before winning an entertaining contest 22-16 at Broomfield.
Both teams took every opportunity to play enterprising rugby and though Crocs were good value for their win, Beverley were still in the contest entering the final minutes.
Crocs always looked dangerous in attack and their ball retention in the set piece was more effective than in recent weeks. However, they squandered possession in the loose against a strong Beverley pack.
The defensive performance was again impressive and they were able to nullify Beverley’s attacking intent when the visitors controlled periods of play.
Jack Hammond returned from injury in the back line and Roland Marki, fresh from international duty with Hungary, resumed in the front row. Chris Vine and Manny Riaz were on the bench after missing the win at Old Rishworthians.
Crocs took the lead after only two minutes with a Callum Dunne penalty for offside. The full back then brilliantly caught a Beverley penalty to touch close to the line and cleared long downfield.
The home side were forcing lineout turnovers but were penalised after 12 minutes for an infringement at a rolling maul and Phil Duboulay made it 3-3.
Crocs were then offside from the restart, allowing Beverley to establish an attacking platform. Duboulay pulled a penalty wide but made no mistake shortly after to give the visitors a 6-3 lead.
Crocs response was immediate. They built the phases deep in the Beverley 22 before spreading the ball wide down the left. Dunne joined the line and cut back inside before plunging over. He was unable to convert.
A couple of promising home attacks were halted and a Beverley winger intercepted. The danger was averted and Crocs extended their lead shortly before the break.
They turned down an easy shot a goal in favour of a tap and go. Following an excellent drive from Jack Pilcher, Sam Ives powered over and Dunne’s conversion made it 15-6 at half time.
Beverley responded within minutes of the restart. Crocs cleared long downfield but Jack Foster’s return run took play deep into Crocs’ territory. This signalled a period of intense pressure and eventually, from a five metre scrum, Jack Houseman burrowed his way over. The conversion drifted wide.
Mark Boothroyd broke the Beverley defensive line in midfield and found support from Rob Oliver but the pass was adjudged to be forward.
The disappointment was short lived as Joe Gallagher’s excellent kick took play deep into the Beverley half. Controlled recycling enabled Billy Hammond to blast his way through the defensive cover and his hand off set up a ruck under
the posts. Several phases later Jack Pilcher forced his way over and Dunne’s conversion extended the lead to 22-11.
Beverley laid siege to the Crocs’ try line. As on so many occasions this season, solid defence forced turnover ball. However, Crocs were struggling to retain possession and, entering the final 10 minutes, Beverley scored
their second try when Rob Smith finished extremely well in the corner with little space to work with.
A Crocs penalty drifted agonisingly wide before Beverley knocked on following a line out and the referee blew for full time.