Coach Talk – A report from Steve Hazzelby

It has been a mixed two weeks for the players, management and coaches. A hard fought win against a powerful Stourbridge side followed last Saturday with a very disappointing away loss to Hinckley

Our last home game was against old rivals Stourbridge a team who like to play open Rugby and where results over the past few seasons have always been close. After the disappointment of the away loss against Tynedale the week previously we were looking for a positive reaction from the players and a good performance. Conditions on the day were very good with a fine sunny day and a dry pitch.

Early exchanges were equal with both teams playing hard, physical rugby looking for ways of breaking defences down and it was Stourbridge who scored first after a huge drive from their massive forwards. 7-0 up within the first ten minutes. We came back with a penalty from fly half Steve Collins after 18 minutes. Stourbridge went further ahead with another converted try after 30 minutes after a good penetrating run from their backs and finished with another forward drive. A commanding and deserved 14-3 lead. They then scored their third converted try after 38 minutes after good play from their backs finished off by their flying left winger. However we got another penalty from Piggy on the stroke of half time to keep us just in touch 6-21 going into the interval.

This was a disappointing first half performance from the Tigers because we created many scoring opportunities but failed to convert them often losing possession and not being able to put many phases together. However the second half was much better and we hit back with a great try from flanker Elliot Crowe after a lovely passage of play from our outside backs. Steve added the conversion and we back in the game 10-21 with another 35 minutes to play. This was backed up with another great score for our other flanker Will Lees after a patient build up by the boys. Piggy added the conversion and we were right back in it 17-21. Stourbridge came back strongly with a fine try of their own after good linking and support play from their threequarters to extend their lead to 17-28 going into the last 20 minutes. However we struck back almost immediately with a fabulous score from winger Adam Cheshire after a beautiful cross kick from Steve Collins. He added the conversion and the score couldn’t have been closer 27-28 to Stourbridge with ten minutes to go. At this point we were playing excellent controlled rugby, looking after the ball intelligently and playing in the right areas of the field. A great phase of play from forwards and backs in their 22 resulted in a great drop goal from Piggy which gave us the win 30-28 and a hard earned 4 league points. Make no mistake this was a wonderful game of rugby for the neutral supporters and a game which either side could have won but all credit to the Tigers for the sheer effort and belief in each other.

Last Saturday we were on the road down to Hinckley a team who we had beaten 34-29 back in October. Results have always been close with the honours pretty even over past seasons. We knew that this would be a hard game against a big physical side but spirits were high within the squad after the great win the week before.

We started the game very strongly with tempo and momentum from forwards and backs. This was rewarded with an excellent try after eight minutes for fly half Steve Collins after great support and linking play between the players. This was backed up six minutes later with  a superb individual effort from No 8 Tom Ailes after he picked up from the base of the scrum and out ran the covering defence to score out wide on the right. Piggy added the conversion and we were now in a commanding 12-0 lead within the first fifteen minutes. Steve added another three points from a penalty and it fair to say that we were now playing some great rugby, controlled rugby 15-0 up within the first 24 minutes. Hinckley to their credit came back strongly with three converted tries of their own to take the lead 15-21 going into half time.

We felt that if we continued to play the way we did in the first half that we could go on to get the victory. Unfortunately this was not to be as Hinckley went on to score another four unanswered tries and a penalty which inflicted our heaviest defeat for many seasons 15-50. This was obviously extremely disappointing for all the players, coaches and management and it is difficult to pinpoint what went wrong. The number of penalties that we conceded plus the number of missed tackles did not help but one poor result does not make the Tigers a bad team. We have to remain positive, review the performance and train well for the next challenge.

On Saturday we entertain old rivals Chester here at Park Lane. We narrowly beat them 28-24 at their place back in October in a very close game. We know that this will be a big challenge and that top performance is needed if we are to get the win. I hope you all come along and give your support to your wonderful Tigers team

Cheers, Hazz

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