Old Crossleyans dug deep to restrict the damage in a 31-5 defeat away to Yorkshire Two leaders Moortown yesterday.
Their preparations for a trip to face undefeated opponents at Far Moss Sports Ground in Alwoodley was far from ideal with the impressive Phil Schedlbauer and Lewis Sharpe added to the injury list and Cameron Brannan a late withdrawal.
The difference between a side riding high and full of confidence and one in the relegation zone looked set to be clearly demonstrated as Moortown scored four tries inside 25 minutes.
One of the scores was gift wrapped as Crocs tried to run the ball from deep in their own half, right winger Bobby Taylor accepting the interception opportunity and touching down under the posts.
Half backs Joe Stockwell and Dion Fraser, one of many overseas players in the North Leeds team, were pulling the strings and a heavy defeat looked in store for the visitors.
However, Moortown didn’t account for the resilience of the Crocs, who began to gain lengthy periods of possession.
No 8 Ollie Coyne constantly took the game to the opposition, assisted by the Sembi brothers, James Wainwright and assistant coach Richard Wheale, who had come off the bench and out of retirement.
With the floodlights lighting up the gloomy surroundings, it remained 24-0 up to half time.
Stephen Riley replaced the hard working Will Clayton and Crocs made good ground into home territory, right winger Chris Harries featuring with a couple of determined runs.
Ryan Price, who came in at full back, was proving to be a reliable last line of defence and Steve Shaw, who had probably thought his first team career was long behind him, was rolling the years back and catching the eye.
More determined driving by the forwards led to Luke Sturman finding a gap in the home defence and going in for a well-taken try on the hour.
More good work from Andy Day and Damien Seeto, another who probably didn’t expect to be playing first team rugby again, led to Gordon Semple, a prop playing at lock, being held up just short of the try line.
Fly half Zane Sanders and centres Jack Hammond and Joe Baker produced some excellent tackling to ensure that the Yorkshire One bound hosts did not make significant ground down the centre of the field.
The game ebbed and flowed and despite Moortown being helped by an abundance of lineout possession via No 8 Derrick Liva Soqeta, they couldn’t breach the Crocs defence until the final few minutes when left winger Tom Moorby set up the final score of the game.