Old Crossleyans were unable to follow up last week’s convincing home win against West Park Leeds, losing 18-5 away to Yorkshire Two leaders Pontefract.
Their hosts made a flying start and dominated the opening exchanges but Crocs dug in and showed a lot of spirit and determination as the game progressed.
Handling conditions were hampered by the constant cold drizzle that fell from a leaden sky.
Pontefract showed their intent from the start and scored their opening try after four minutes.
A series of penalties eventually saw them take the scrum option close to the Crocs’ line. They spun the ball left and winger Stewart Sanderson touched down in the corner.
Pontefract continued to dominate, helped by Crocs ’mistakes and the lead was extended on 13 minutes when Liam Kaye landed a penalty after Crocs failed to retire sufficiently from a quick tap penalty.
Poor discipline resulted in the referee marching the visitors back 20 metres for talking back. Pontefract kicked to the corner and were subsequently awarded a penalty for a high tackle.
Having secured line out ball they mauled and rucked effectively, released the back line and Sanderson went in for his second try to stretch the lead to 13-0.
Crocs, at last, showed attacking intent when a finely judged kick from Joe Gallagher was caught by George Ackroyd, who then sprinted down the left wing to herald a period of Crocs’ pressure.
The pack was beginning to get the shove on in the scrums and Gallagher’s astutely angled kick to the corner touched a defender and Crocs had the lineout 15 metres out. Frustratingly, they continued to spill the ball.
Just before half time Callum Dunne was narrowly wide with a penalty and the full back was then required to perform excellent retrieval work when Pontefract kicked behind the Crocs’ defensive line.
Pontefract began the second half strongly but penetrative runs from Ryan Hammond and Freddie Walker enabled Crocs to establish a foothold in the Pontefract half but they were unable to turn pressure into points.
To make matters more difficult Crocs had a man yellow carded for a high tackle and Pontefract’s Jonny Hill burrowed over following a series of rucks and the lead was 18-0 after 55 minutes.
Crocs’ response was emphatic and they scored a try following a flowing move down the right wing, employing excellent support play which saw Walker score in the corner.
The conversion was missed but confidence and composure were evident as they played a more controlled game and asked serious questions of the Pontefract defence.
The home team still created scoring opportunities but they were squandered and Martin Hamer secured a high kick in midfield and surged into the Pontefract half.
Walker then cut loose in midfield and found support from Iain Davies to maintain the momentum.
A series of penalties meant Crocs controlled the final stages but the defence held and they were unable to secure the losing bonus point their performance possibly deserved.