Coach’s Talk – A Report from Steve Hazzelby

On Saturday we were at home to Yorkshire rivals Hull Ionians, a team we had beaten narrowly at their ground back in October. Spirits were high in the Sedgley camp after the incredible win the previous week up at Fylde. Despite this we knew that this would be a difficult game against a well organised, powerful team who had not lost since before Christmas.

We started the game well playing up the hill with a solid set piece and good attacking shape but it was the visitors who took the early lead with a well worked try for their fly half who made a good line break after just five minutes. They added the conversion to make it 0-7 and were playing with confidence and continuity.

We broke back eight minutes later with a wonderful try for flying winger Jamie Harrison who outstripped three defenders to touch down near the posts. Steve Collins added the conversion and we were now back in the game 7-7. It was the home team who were dominating most of the play in this first half with strong driving play from the forwards and lovely width and pace in attack from the backs. We went further ahead with a penalty from Steve after an infringement from Hull giving us a 10-7 lead and this was then backed up by a second wonder try for Jamie Harrison who came off his wing to sprint 60 yards and touch down in the left hand corner. Steve added the conversion and we now had a 17-7 lead going into the last fifteen minutes of the half.

Hull continued to test the Tigers defences when they had possession but were unable to get through. Another great passage of play between forwards and backs saw centre Oli Glasse make a lovely line break which ended with captain Matt Riley crash over for our third try. Steve again added the conversion and we went into half time with a commanding 24-7 lead.

The second half did not start well for the home team after centre Oli Glasse was given a yellow card and we were down to 14 men after just ten minutes. It was during this time that Hull came right back into the game with a try for their scrum half who broke from the base of the scrum to score on the right. They added the conversion and were now back in the game 14-24. They followed up this with an interception try after 60 minutes despite good attacking play from the Tigers.

The score was now 24-21 to the home team with Hull looking for victory but another penalty from Steve Collins in the 72nd minute gave us a bit of breathing space going into the final stages of the match. We did have a number of opportunities to get the fourth bonus point try but this did not happen and the game finished 27-21 to the Tigers. Credit to Hull who pushed us all the way to the final whistle and deserved their losing bonus point.

The win keeps us third in the table, two points behind Rotherham and eleven points behind leaders Hull. This Saturday we have an extremely difficult game away to Luctonians who have risen to seventh in the table after some really good wins at home. A long bus journey, a heavy pitch and a very vocal local crowd means that we have to prepare well, be at the top of our game and put in the right performance.

Cheers, Hazz