Old Crossleyans maintained their unbeaten start to the season with an 18-13 home win over Old Brodleians but were pushed all the way in a hard fought and keenly contested match.
The defensive performances from each side in the Yorkshire One clash were excellent. Crocs will be disappointed with the amount of possession they turned over but this was due, in part, to the quality of the Brods’ defence.
The opening exchanges were even. Ryan Hammond, a colossus in the Crocs’ pack throughout, was punching holes in midfield and Jack Pilcher gathered a high ball and surged downfield.
On the quarter hour Gareth Sweeney was successful with a penalty.
Brods replied following several phases of patient build-up play. A grubber kick close to the line took a number of ricochets off Crocs’ defenders before Phil Town retrieved the ball and touched down in the corner. His touchline conversion gave Brods a 7-3 lead approaching midway through the half.
Crocs responded with a scything run from Joel McFarlane deep into Brods territory but the support play resulted in a knock on.
Ryan Hammond and Pilcher again drove the ball in hard, making good ground but an inability to retain possession was proving frustrating for home supporters.
The opening try for Crocs, on the half hour, was a piece of individual brilliance from Callum Dunne. Joining the line from full back at a Crocs’ scrum, he showed sublime pace and balance to turn defenders inside out before touching down in the corner. The conversion was missed but Crocs led 8-7.
Brods responded immediately with a catch and drive close to the try line. Sam Ives forced a turnover and Joe Gallagher cleared.
The respite was short lived but Brods were penalised for not releasing.
Crocs started the second half in the ascendancy, patiently building phases of possession. Jack Hammond tore into the Brods’ defensive line but the visitors cleared deep with the wind at their backs.
Crocs were exerting pressure on the Brods’ lineout and, from a scrum, Ryan Hammond and seasonal debutant Joslin Landu combined to take play into the opposition half but Crocs were twice penalised for not releasing.
The home side were not to be denied and midway through the half Phil Schedlbauer burst through the midfield, scattering defenders, to set up Joel McFarlane to score in the corner. Gareth Sweeney landed a superb conversion from the touchline to extend the lead to 15-7.
Brods were penalised metres short of the try line but Town’s penalty made it 15-10 and he added another three points minutes later. Crocs had a man yellow carded as well, leaving the outcome very much in the balance.
A Sweeney penalty drifted wide following a high tackle offence and Crocs attempted to run the clock down with controlled recycling.
A penalty for a further high tackle resulted in a Brods player being yellow carded and Sweeney made no mistake four minutes into stoppage time.
There was still time for one last Brods’ attack but their lineout misfired and the ball was hoofed into touch.