Crocs falter at home to Keighley
By Ryan Price
report by Martin Staples, pictures by Max Uttley
TEAM: 15) Callum Dunne, 14) Josh Hunt, 13) Joel McFarlance, 12) Jack Hammond, 11) Chris Vine, 10) Joe Gallagher, 9) Joe Stott
1) Navneet Sembi, 2) Jack Pilcher, 3) Roland Marki, 4) Iain Davies, 5) Tony Oxley, 6) Martin Hamer, 7) Alex McFarlane, 8) Ryan Hammond
REPLACEMENTS: Rob Oliver, Gareth Sweeney, Raman Sembi
OLD CROSSLEYANS 13 KEIGHLEY 18
Old Crossleyans started 2019 with a lacklustre, disappointing defeat against Keighley. The visitors gained revenge for their 32-13 defeat back in September at Utley. The Crocs’ performance, in comparison to the high standards achieved for much of this season, lacked the necessary cohesion and discipline. They didn’t have a cutting edge in attack and the defence was found wanting on several occasions. Keighley defended effectively and took their scoring opportunities well. The four week layoff seemed to have a detrimental effect on the Crocs’ display. Notwithstanding, they led until the 75th minute but having a man red carded early in the second half meant they faced an uphill struggle. Keighley eventually made the numerical advantage count and Crocs had a further man red carded as the game entered stoppage time.
Crocs controlled the opening exchanges but the Keighley defence held firm and Crocs were penalised for not releasing. They were further penalised for crossing when attacking in the Keighley ‘22’ and the threat was nullified. Keighley responded with a promising move down their left wing, deep in the Crocs’ half, only for it called back for a forward pass. Defences were on top and play became scrappy and fragmented with a series of turnover balls and unforced errors from both teams.
Keighley had an opportunity to take the lead on the quarter hour but Alex Brown’s penalty kick hit the crossbar and Crocs were able to clear their lines. Josh Hunt excelled in defence forcing a turnover and minutes later he scored the opening try of the game. Crocs built the phases patiently. Tony Oxley drove the ball in hard and Joe Stott’s diagonal cross kick found the wingman who sprinted past the cover to score under the posts. Callum Dunne’s conversion established a 7-0 lead.
Keighley responded when Tom Wilson broke the midfield defence and ran the ball deep into the Crocs’ half. The attacking platform was established but faltered when a knock on relieved the pressure. Crocs were penalised for successive scrum infringements and Keighley again asked serious questions of the home defence. They spun the ball to the right wing but a ‘try’ was ruled out for a foot in touch. They were denied on this occasion but the warning signs were plain for all to see.
A further threat was diffused when Joe Gallagher crucially intercepted a dangerous Keighley attack but the constant pressure was made to count after 32 minutes. Crocs had a man yellow carded for a deliberate knock on and Alex Brown’s penalty from in front of the posts reduced the arrears to 7-3. Callum Dunne landed a penalty minutes later to make it 10-3 but Keighley had the final word of the half. Suspect tackling allowed Joey Sugden to scamper in for a try in the right corner. The conversion attempt drifted wide but the Crocs’ lead was narrowed to 10-8.
Crocs started the second half on the attack building the phases with a series of pick and go drives but Keighley defended comfortably and eventually forced a turnover when Crocs were penalised for not releasing. The home team were back to a full complement of players but it was the visitors who were controlling play. Once again, they breached the defensive line and only a further interception prevented a possible scoring opportunity with the try line beckoning.
Arguably, the turning point of the game occurred on the 50th minute. Following a scuffle, Keighley had a man yellow carded but, crucially, Crocs’ scrum half received a second yellow which became a red. Minutes later a Keighley penalty in front of the posts was pulled wide and, shortly after, successive penalties enabled Crocs to establish an attacking position deep in the Keighley half. The visitors were penalised for a high tackle and Callum Dunne’s penalty extended the lead to 13-8.
Crocs were still turning the ball over too readily, although credit must be given to the Keighley defence. Entering the final ten minutes, a further penalty attempt from Callum Dunne, just inside his half, fell short. Keighley replied immediately and a scything run through the Crocs’ defence from the full back, Jake Duxbury, levelled the scores. The formality of the conversion gave Keighley the lead for the first time in the match.
Entering stoppage time Crocs had a second player sent off for successive yellow card offences and Alex Brown’s penalty stretched the visitors’ lead to 18-13. There was still one more opportunity for Crocs to attack but the ball was eventually turned over and kicked into touch. Keighley were able to celebrate the win and Crocs were left with plenty to contemplate before next week’s visit to Middlesbrough.