Late tries rub salt in Crocs’ wounds

Rugby union - Old Crocs v Wheatley Hills.'Jack Hammond for Crocs.
Rugby union - Old Crocs v Wheatley Hills.'Jack Hammond for Crocs.

Old Crossleyans slipped nearer the North One East trapdoor yesterday when beaten 44-16 at Percy Park.

They conceded three tries in the last five minutes to give the scoreline at North Shields a lop-sided look.

The next-to-bottom Broomfield men, still searching for a first away win of the season, led 13-6 at half time and trailed only 18-16 passing the hour mark.

However, Park eventually hit top gear and gaps appeared in Crocs’ trademark strong defence.

The visitors tackled well in the opening 40 minutes, forcing their hosts to cough up possession.

They were encouraged by a try in only the second minute following a scrum in home territory. Fullback Ben Greaves joined the line and he and Jack Hammond paved the way for Chris Vine to score an unconverted try in the left corner.

Park pressed but solid resistance came from the likes of Manny Riaz, Hammond and Raman Sembi.

When Crocs were offside in front of their posts Paul Spowart pulled back three points.

Vine was back to cover following an excellent break and kick ahead from home fullback Michael Grove.

Crocs scored their second try on 26 minutes when Hammond helped to turn over possession and the ball was spread left where James Cooper and Greaves set up Vine to touch down again in the same corner. Vine was unable to convert but Crocs led 10-3.

Crocs held firm against Park pressure and after turning down one shot at goal, Vine made it 3-13 on 38 minutes, only for Spowart to reply in the last action of the half.

The visitors made a promising start to the second period with a good driving maul which was held up.

Park then attacked and got their opening try on 53 minutes from a well-worked move 20 metres out. Ali Blair came on the crash ball and went through a big gap to score under the posts, Spowart’s kick levelling the scores.

The home side added a second four minutes later when Grove broke through the middle and winger Liam Blackburn scored an unconverted try in the corner.

Vine kept Crocs firmly in the hunt with a 59th-minute penalty but Blair’s interception try on 67 minutes, converted by Spowart, proved a turning point.

A five minute hail storm proved a bad omen for Crocs. No 8 James Ponten begun Park’s late points spree, Grove took advantage of weak tackling and then Blair broke through the middle and good support play allowed Blackburn to grab his second.

Ash Smith converted the final two tries to leave the Halifax side well beaten.