OLD CROSSLEYANS RUFC 28 WHEATLEY HILLS RUFC 33
Saturday 16th February 2013
Report by Geoff Seymour
15 Chris Seymour; 14 Will Clayton; 13 Jack Hammond; 12 Neil Richardson; 11 James Wainwright (c); 10 Gareth Ott; 9 Chris Vine;
1 Mark Palmer; 2 Navneet Sembi; 3 Andy Day; 4 James Cooper; 5 Tony Oxley; 6 Manny Riaz; 7 Chris Jones; 8 Ryan Hammond
Subs - 16 Raman Sembi; 17 Guy Austin; 18 Andrew Wills
Old Crossleyans resumed normal service following last weeks disaster at third from bottom Keighley with a great performance against a powerful Wheatley Hills side third from top of North One East, to atone for the 46 - 11 defeat at Doncaster last December.
Crocs had an even weaker side than last week, yet would have held Hills to a draw had it not been for a missed penalty and final try conversion, and would have won but for the defensive lapse that gifted the fourth try to the visitors.
Crocs did secure a losing bonus point which would have brought player-coach Chris Jones some solace despite his return to the team being ended prematurely when a severe cut to the head early in the second half led to a trip to A&E.
Hills took the lead after just four minutes, from Crocs’ kick off the visitors storming to the home line where extended pressure saw the ball spread wide and a three man overlap secured the unconverted try.
Crocs responded well with wing Will Clayton charging 40 metres before No.8 Ryan Hammond took the ball on but he was stopped short.
The pressure was maintained and scrum half Chris Vine, taking the team's goal kicks for the first time, made his kick count when Crocs were awarded a penalty to make it 3-5 after 10 minutes.
Five minutes later a Hills 22metre lineout led to a charge to five metres from where the ball was spread wide and another overlap saw full back Woodcock race in and convert for 3-12, his first successful kick of many to come.
Play was end to end, Crocs missing advantage when Vine was tackled & dumped vertically, only a penalty kick being awarded, & from the following line-out, captain James Wainwright, today back in his old role on the wing, made a good burst up the left but was isolated and Hills recovered to clear the danger.
Hills returned to the attack and pressure from a five metre scrum enabled the big pack to drive over for a converted score and a 3-19 lead on 28 mins.
Vine then fielded a Hills punt over the defence and fed no.10 Gareth Ott who raced from halfway to the 22 but was bundled into touch. The Hills lineout was stolen by Crocs and the ball fired wide to Ott whose quick pass found centre Jack Hammond who was covered in front of the posts, so he rapidly delivered his trademark long cut-out pass over two supporting colleagues to Wainwright who raced in at the corner, Vine securing a great conversion for 10-19 after 35 minutes.
Crocs were saved by a knock on when Hills threatened again with another 3 man overlap, but the visitors increased their lead just on half-time when from Crocs line-out on their own 22m, the over thrown ball was snaffled by Wheatley's back row & quickly spread along their backs who kicked through into the corner where hesitant home defence allowed the right wing to touch down for a well converted try & the score 10-26.
The visiting forwards started the second half strongly but it was Crocs who registered the next points when Manny Riaz' big stop won a penalty on the oppositions' 22 and Vine added the three for 13-26.
Chris Jones then had to leave the field, his head bleeding heavily and to be replaced by Raman Sembi. Crocs attacked and centre Jack Hammond broke through on halfway, hooker Boj Sembi took the ball to the 22, winning a penalty which Vine converted to make it 16-26 after 53 minutes.
Another chance was lost when Manny Riaz and Boj Sembi combined to release Jack Hammond 22m out, but his inside back-flip pass to Ott just fell short of his reach. Play was brought back for an off-side penalty but Chris Vine's attempt was just wide.
The anticipated threat from Hills’ powerhouse No 8 Burns had been well policed all game & he was again well-stopped by the Crocs forwards, with outstanding lock Tony Oxley to the fore, on the home 22m. From the mid-field scrum the ball was spread wide to the on-fire Jack Hammond who again broke the cover, feeding Ott in support into Hill's territory who then returned the ball to Jack, his weaving run mesmerised the retreating defenders to pass to Gareth Ott again, who had read his centre's play well & produced a superb dummy to jink through close to the posts for a superb try, only for Vine to be agonisingly off target with the kick.
Now Crocs were only 3 points down at 23-26 with 10 mins remaining.
Hills’ restart was re-gathered by their forwards who made repeated drives over the next 5 mins stretching the home defence to the limit before scoring a converted try by the posts to now lead 23-33 deflating the home supporters hopes.
But the fat lady was not yet singing !!
Prop Andy Day found himself in possession in a rare position on the wing following a 22m lineout in Hills' territory but the ball was spilled in the tackle with the line beckoning.
Wheatley returned to attack with a long punt up-field, the chasing backs forcing Crocs to concede the 10m line-out, their pack pressurising the home defence, who with no.8 Ryan Hammond leading from the front as always, forced Hills to give away a penalty on Crocs line!!
With time running out, Neil Richardson’s long penalty kick to halfway was followed up & gathered by Wainwright who was stopped but won another penalty.
He ambitiously tapped and ran, surprising the retreating defence, finding Ryan Hammond on his inside who fed the supporting Oxley, now 20m out, Manny Riaz appeared at his shoulder to grab the ball & charge over by the posts, Vine just failing with the pressure kick on the whistle for the final score 28-33 !!
So near yet so far ! - but still a losing bonus point,
A great game !!
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