Old Crossleyans maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a comprehensive 45-19 home victory against Middlesbrough, who had led the Yorkshire One table going into the game.
The visitors had to make a number of late changes but this should not detract from a superb Crocs’ performance which had the home support purring with delight.
In previous games this season Crocs have hinted at something special but have lacked consistency. This, though, was a much more complete performance.
The discipline was exemplary, the errors were significantly reduced and the whole team combined effectively as a unit to produce a performance which was a pleasure to watch.
Martin Hamer returned in the back row and Mark Boothroyd started on the bench. Billy Hammond resumed in the centre and Freddie Walker moved out to the left wing.
Crocs made a statement of intent with a try after four minutes. Patient recycling of the ball eventually resulted in Jack Pilcher, impressive throughout, running an excellent angle on the crash ball to touch down after Tony Oxley’s powerful drive.
The lead was extended to 8-0 after 10 minutes when Joe Gallagher landed a penalty.
Middlesbrough could not find any breaches in the defensive line and Crocs’ discipline was rewarded with turnover ball.
Walker surged past defenders to take play deep into Middlesbrough territory. The visitors threatened down the opposite wing minutes later but Billy Hammond drifted across to execute a text book tackle.
However, Middlesbrough scored their opening try on 25 minutes when Harry Brice spotted a gap from a scrum move and he found support from Jack McPhillips, who touched down. Andy Bagget’s conversion narrowed the lead to 8-7.
The Crocs response was immediate. Oxley was adjudged to have been held up over the line and from the resultant five metre scrum, the pack pushed Middlesbrough backwards. Ryan Hammond controlled the ball at the base of the scrum to claim Crocs’ second try. Joe Gallagher’s conversion was successful and the lead stretched out to 15-7.
Middlesbrough were again denied scoring opportunities by stalwart defence and Crocs finished the half on the attack with forwards and backs linking cohesively.
As against Keighley the previous week, Crocs started the second half immediately on the attack and soon scored their third try.
Boothroyd crashed through in midfield and found support from Ryan Hammond. The visitors were penalised and Joe Stott caught them unawares with a quick tap, sprinting away to the line.
The conversion hit the post, the first of three times in the game from three different kickers, so the lead was restricted to 20-7.
Middlesbrough had a player yellow carded for a high tackle and Crocs put together several phases of play before an ambitious pass was knocked on and the siege was temporarily lifted.
Crocs were looking to run the ball at every opportunity and some of the support play was sublime.The lead was extended midway through the half when man of the match Oxley powered over from a quick tap penalty. The conversion again hit the post but Crocs led 25-7.
Middlesbrough scored their second try a few minutes later through Myles Corvin from a driving maul but Gareth Sweeney’s penalty made it 28-12 entering the final 10 minutes.
Cue Crocs turning on the style with three further tries to delight the home support.
Oxley sent Walker in at the corner; Jack Hammond scampered over from an arcing run; and Walker deftly off-loaded to Joel McFarlane, who crashed through the Middlesbrough defence before Billy Hammond outsprinted the trailing defenders.
Middlesbrough replied with the final play when Brendan Hill powered over from 10 metres out. Baggot converted.