Old Crossleyans marked their return to Yorkshire One following last season’s promotion with an impressive and encouraging 36-22 victory at home to Dinnington.
Crocs made a flying start, scoring two tries in the opening seven minutes and by the half hour had stretched their lead to 24-7.
The visitors fought back strongly, using a well drilled and effective maul to reduce the advantage to 24-19.
Crocs then had to withstand a sustained period of pressure in the second half but held firm and two tries in the final 10 minutes saw them secure a deserved bonus point victory.
Chris Vine started at full back on his return to the club and the front row saw debuts for props Jack Pilcher and Roland Marti.
Crocs took the game to their opponents from the whistle. A Gareth Sweeney penalty hit a post but George Ackroyd touched down in the corner following quick handling from a tap penalty. Sweeney converted to establish a 7-0 lead.
Jack Hammond then stormed through the Dinnington defensive line and found brother Billy, who raced away under the posts. Sweeney’s conversion moved the lead out to 14-0.
There then followed a period of pressure from Dinnington and they scored their first try on the quarter hour. They kicked a penalty to the corner and mauled effectively for Donnelly to ground. West added the conversion from the touchline.
Crocs responded immediately with Mark Boothroyd and Billy Hammond making excellent midfield breaks. Dinnington were penalised for handling in the ruck and Sweeney’s penalty stretched the lead to 17-7.
Dinnington’s fly half drilled an excellent diagonal kick deep into Crocs’ territory but the danger was diffused by an excellent clearance from Joe Stott.
Crocs responded with eye catching runs from Chris Vine and Billy Hammond before they had a man yellow carded for a high tackle.
Joe Gallagher’s long clearance established the platform for more enterprising attacking play and Billy Hammond left a trail of defenders in his wake as he powered his way under the posts. Sweeney’s conversion made it 24-7.
Ackroyd performed a text book tackle on his opposite wingman to nullify a threatening position but Dinnington’s powerful driving maul advanced ominously towards the line and the referee awarded a penalty try when he ruled that Crocs had collapsed it deliberately.
The visitors were now in the ascendancy and when Crocs had a second man yellow carded they again kicked to the corner and Leitch narrowed the lead to 24-19 from the subsequent maul with the conversion drifting wide.
Joe Stott made an excellent break after the interval but Dinnington continued to apply sustained pressure. For once, their maul was disrupted and drop goal attempt drifted wide but Dinnington were asking serious questions with a series of scrums and line outs close to the line.
They were unable to breach the impressive Crocs’ defence but West landed a penalty from half way to narrow the deficit to 24-22.
Crocs dictated play in the final quarter hour. Dinnington had two men yellow carded in quick succession and Crocs made the advantage count.
Boothroyd and Stott combined effectively and Rob Oliver was in support to score under the posts and secure the bonus point.
Sweeney’s conversion made it 31-22 and the victory was cemented in stoppage time. Jack Pilcher picked up a loose ball to set up a final attack and the ball was spun down the right wing for Billy Hammond to complete his hat trick, again showing strength and pace to score in the corner. The conversion was unsuccessful but Crocs’ attacking flair, excellent support play and tenacious defence under pressure had paid off.