Coach’s Talk – A Report from Steve Hazzelby

After a well deserved break over the Xmas and New Year period it was back to league action last Saturday with a difficult away game to unbeaten Rotherham Titans. We had drawn with them earlier in the season at home and this was always going to be a hard fought close game between two of the top teams in National Two.

Preparations had gone well in the week and spirits were high in the squad. We started the game strongly,  with a solid scrum, an accurate line out and lovely continuity between forwards and backs constantly testing the Titans defence, in the first twenty minutes. However the Rotherham defence is one of the best in the league and we were unable to break them down, despite creating a number of chances.

It was the home team who scored first, against the run of play, with a lovely chip over for their No 8 to collect and feed their hooker who touched down under the posts giving them a 7-0 lead. This was followed by a penalty for offside against the Tigers, to put them in a commanding 10-0 lead going into the last fifteen minutes of the half. It is fair to say that play was a bit disjointed at this stage with a number of infringements from both sides. Rotherham were awarded another penalty for a high tackle by one of the Sedgley players and they went into the interval 13-0 in front.

The second half saw us playing down the slope with the wind and the response was almost immediate. A powerful line break by skipper Matt Riley saw hooker Matt Gallagher burst through on a late run to beat two defenders and touch down on the left. Steve Collins added the conversion and we were now back in the game 7-13 with most of the second half to go.

We seemed to have most of the possession and territory in this half but Rotherham defended really well and it was not until the last play of the game that we were able to break them down. A great line out catch and drive by the forwards wide out on the right saw hooker Matt Gallagher get his second try of the afternoon and put us right back in the game 12-13. The conversion would have given us a 14-13 win but Steve just pushed it wide of the posts and Rotherham took the points to continue their unbeaten run.

This was heart-breaking for the lads who had given their all and left everything out on the pitch. We did get the losing bonus point but we knew that this was a game that we should have won. We are still joint second in the league and there is a long way to go with 9 home games and 6 away and a lot of points to play for.

This Saturday we are at home to old Yorkshire rivals Wharfedale. We took the honours earlier in the season but we are taking nothing for granted and a big reaction is needed after the disappointment of last Saturday. We need a lot of support so come down, enjoy the hospitality and support your special Tigers team.