The Crocs juniors faced their toughest test of the season with a game against Cleckheaton. With the visitors having registered just 2 losses all season and the Crocs jnrs fielding 2 debutants to rugby union in a mostly u12 side this was going to be a tough encounter.
The game started with Crocs receiving the kick and quickly turned this possession into attack following a flowing move down their left flank which released George Ackroyd
into space, he used his pace and strength to draw the cover defence but unfortunately the Crocs didn’t seize the early opportunity and were denied by a last ditch tackle from Cleck.
Cleckheaton then started to dominate field position through their large forwards but strong defending from Max Balfour
, Charlie Nendick
and Will Hilton
kept the visitors short of the home try line.
Relentless pressure though finally told with the visitors driving over from a ruck to register their first try.
The visitors kept their momentum helped by handling mistakes from the inexperienced Crocs who again soon found themselves defending their home try line. Tom Holroyd and Nathan Cornish
forced back the Cleck pack but all in vain as the visitors managed to score from another lose mall on the home teams try line.
The Crocs responded immediately from a perfectly positioned restart from Riley Dean
putting the visitors under immediate pressure, debutant Ben Sutcliffe
then took a short pass from Jimmy Crabtree
only to be denied short of the Cleck line. Cleck then managed to clear their lines and turn defence into attack.
The Crocs then gave Cleck a quick lesson in ‘open rugby’ by shifting the ball away from the Cleck pack to mount an attack with Jimmy Crabtree
spreading the ball wide to George Ackroyd
who then found Joe Stott
he then released winger Amir Bourouh
into space. Amir stepped outside his opposite winger and raced 70 metres beating the Cleck fullback and cover defence to score a sensational try under the visitors posts just before half time.
The 2nd half started with the Crocs maintaining their momentum following strong forward drives from Tom Holroyd and Ben Brearley
whilst Riley Dean
probed the visitors defence releasing replacement Isaac Mitchell clear who was tackled short of the visitors try line.
The Crocs then fought back possession and this time spread the play down their left flank to find again the pacey George Ackroyd
who was again just held just short of the Cleck line.
Cleckheaton responded in the only way they could keeping the ball in their forwards away from the much more skilful and pacey Crocs backs, although the Crocs managed to counter ruck through Nathan Cornish
, Ben Brearley
and Matt Shaw
to again release another scintillating backs move leading to another try for Amir Bourouh
. The conversion was missed to deny levelling the scores.
The young Crocs outfit were now hungry for the victory and began to dominate the set piece but were running out of time. The opportunity to win another scrum against the head was denied when a Cleck front row forward had to leave the field due to injury leading to ‘un-contested’ scrums. Cleck then launched their usual tight forward attack and eventually drove over for a last minute try. The conversion was missed leading to a final score 12 – 19.
This was a great spectacle of rugby with two contrasting styles on display, unfortunately the inexperience, size and age difference told in the dying minutes.