Old Crossleyans finally travelled to a wet and windy Guisborough yesterday and came away with an impressive 24-7 success.
The bonus point win lifted them level on points with local rivals Old Brodleians and into fifth place in the table.
The fixture had been postponed on two previous occasions and the inclement weather, predictably, influenced the pattern of the game.
Crocs had a gale force wind behind them in the first half and dominated possession and territory, enabling them to establish a 14-0 half time lead.
Guisborough saw more of the ball in the second half but Crocs played the conditions very effectively. The hosts reduced the lead to 14-7 after 50 minutes but Crocs defended resolutely and created numerous
opportunities as the half progressed. They pounced on Guisborough handling errors to score two tries in the closing stages.
Crocs looked to establish an early lead, as they had in the last two matches. Tom Metcalfe, playing on the wing, surged into the Guisborough half and Ryan Hammond used his strength to shake off defenders but a knock on shortly after prevented the first score.
Crocs were firmly in control with forwards and backs combining well but they were unable to break some strong Guisborough defence and another flowing back line move was called back for a forward pass with the line open.
The incessant pressure finally brought the first try on the quarter hour. From their own scrum feed 15 metres out, the backs moved the ball across to the left. Excellent support play created space for Billy Hammond to cut back inside and evade defenders before touching down under the posts. Joe Gallagher converted and Crocs led 7-0.
Gallagher then drilled a precision kick to the corner but Crocs lost the ball in contact as they laid siege to the try line.
The second try arrived midway through the half when Josh Hunt picked up a clearance kick and ran deep into the Guisborough half. Billy Hammond was in support and he scythed his way through the defensive cover to claim his second of the contest. Gallagher’s kick moved the lead out to 14-0.
Guisborough had a more sustained period of possession but it was predominantly in the midfield and Crocs defended effectively. The closing exchanges of the half lacked rhythm and continuity as the driving rain and strong wind made for testing conditions.
Guisborough posed much more of a threat after the break but the Crocs’ defence stood firm. Callum Dunne did extremely well to gather a speculative grubber kick under pressure and clear to half way.
The hosts continued to press. Crocs were penalised for handling in the ruck and, following a series of pick and drives, Michael Henderson crashed over and Jack Robinson added the conversion.
Crocs responded immediately, built pressure and created several scoring opportunities.
Martin Hamer’s surging run on the short side down the left wing was halted just short of the try line by an excellent cover tackle. Minutes later, a driving maul edged forward inexorably only for a defender to rip the ball clear as the try line beckoned.
Guisborough kicked out on the full but threatened with a more probing kick. A hack through posed more problems but a Guisborough player was penalised for obstructing a covering defender.
The final 10 minutes of the match were controlled by the Crocs.
Hunt again,stormed into opposition territory from deep within his own half and Gallagher kept pushing Guisborough back with some astute drilled kicks to touch behind the defensive line.
Crocs’ third try was scored five minutes from time following a dropped ball on half way from the hosts. The ball was kicked through to the in goal and Chris Vine won the foot race to touch down. The conversion drifted wide but Crocs led 19-7.
The bonus point was scored deep into stoppage time when Crocs seized on another handling error in the Guisborough 22 and moved the ball out wide down the right flank. Sam Ives muscled his way over and although the conversion was unsuccessful the bonus point had been secured.