Gators win at the death
by Will Clayton and Richard Durgan
1. Gordon Semple
2. Andrew Moss
3. A Ireborough
4. Will Clayton
5. Matt Knight
6. Richard Durgan
7. Tom Higginbottom
8. Kev McGill
9. Ryan Arnold
10. Steve Shaw
11. Jack Brown
12. Lewis Sharpe
13. Isaac Mitchell
14. Steven Riley
15. Connor McLoughlin
On a warm Saturday afternoon, The Old Crossleyans Gators development team arrived in Leeds for their first fixture in a month as the league campain had been put firmly on hold by the great British weather.
The Gators side was weakened to 14 men for the game, the most notable absentee was captain Ryan Price but as usual there are too many players to name them all. Aireborough, with 19 players sportingly lent the gators a prop for the duration of the game.
The game kicked off, in the middle of a park in Yeadon and was cleanly caught by Richard Durgan, who recycled the ball. The Gators played their way up the field, showing great skill with the ball moving from wing to wing. The overlap was spotted and Jack Brown was able to round his opposite man to score in the corner.
Acting captain Gordon Semple stressed the importance of playing well for the first 10 minutes, in the warm up and was not disappointed.
The hard running Aireborough were able to reply however, once, twice then with a third try in the first half. Continually spotting gaps in the Gators defence and having the athleticism to exploit.
There was, however, no sugar coating the fact weak tackling was letting the Gators down.
The Gators were forced to reshuffle their scrum to cope with the larger Aireborough pack. After some experimentation, it was discovered the best formation seemed to be Kev McGill and Will Clayton in second row with Richard Durgan Moving to number 8 and Matt Knight moving to blindside flanker. With this formation the Gators seemed to be able to push Aireborough off their own ball. A sight which must have brought a smile to Steve Shaw’s face who as usual, played ice cool, maybe even sub-zero.
The lineouts also seemed to have great success with new Tom Higgingbottom winning all the lineout ball. Even with these successes, the first half came to an end with Aireborough leading 19-5
The game was not over though, as soon into the second half an Aireborough player was yellow carded for a high challenge on Connor McLoughlin. The Gators made a communal decision to take the points and the penalty was smoothly converted by Ryan Arnold.
Soon after Lewis Sharpe spotted a gap in the 14 man Aireborough defence and burst through to score, far out wide.
The Gators, growing in confidence were able to score again bringing the score to 17-19. Kev McGill who showed he still had his 1st XV attributes by stepping up to take a quick tap penalty and crashing his way through near the entire Aireborough team to score. Kev’s try was fully deserved, on a individual basis as Kev had a monstrous performance all game.
Going into the final 10 minutes the game was all to play for. Again Lewis Sharpe, after some feint running broke the line and found the supporting Jack Brown who dived over the line. Cheers erupted for the Gators who knew all they had to do is defend to see the game out.
Aireborough kicked off the restart but the ball was dropped by the Gators due to lack of communication. An Aireborough gathered the ball and after 3 or 4 drives Aireborough crashed over to another loud cheer.
With the score at 24-25 to the Gators with the conversion directly in front of the posts the Gators knew they had only one card left to play, charge down specialist Stephen Riley.
As the Aireborough fly-half made his move Riley yelled 'come on' and sped towards the kick. The ruse worked as the kick was scuffed and neither Riley or the Gators were penalised.
A great day for the Crocs as news of the 1st XV routing arrived when we were back in the changing rooms. Also now the Gators have a genuine shot at the play-offs. Next week Skipton away where hopefully the Gators will enjoy some beers together afterwards.