Coach’s Talk – A Report from Steve Hazzelby

Last Saturday was the much anticipated away clash with league leaders Hull. They are the only side to have beaten us at home this season with a narrow 17-22 win back in November. They had only lost two games up to this point and have a very strong team with big powerful forwards and fast backs, who are able to find a different ways of winning games. We had prepared really well for this challenge and were coming off the back of some great victories against some of the top teams, but knew that this would be a defining result of who would go on to challenge for promotion.

We started the game well, with possession and territory putting pressure on their defence in their 22, but were unable to break them down. We lost a number of crucial line outs which enabled them to clear their line and take the play into our half. They scored first after 20 minutes after good inter play between their backs and forwards saw their left winger touch down for a converted try in the left hand corner.

A line out on our five metre line after a penalty infringement saw the ball moved wide for their right winger to touch down. They converted the try and were now 0-14 up going into half time and in a very strong position.

We knew that we would have to up our energy levels in the second half, if we were to get back into the game. A lovely line break by fly half Steve Collins was finished off by prop Jon Blanchard, who touched down between the posts. Steve added the conversion to bring the score to 7-14 and we were now playing powerful, controlled rugby, testing Hull’s defences at every opportunity. A set piece move saw centre Oli Glasse make a beautiful line break to feed skipper Matt Riley who also touched down between the posts and we were now level 14-14 with most of the second half to go.

Hull added a penalty shortly after to retake the lead 14-17 and were now starting to dominate the scrum set piece. A number of scrum penalties gave them the opportunity to gain territory and possession within our 22. It was from a line out catch and drive that their powerful forwards were able to get their third converted drive and extend the lead 14-24 going into the last ten minutes.

The Tigers response was wonderful and a line out five metres out from their line saw the ball moved wide for winger Rhys Henderson to touch down in the corner. Unfortunately Steve could not add the conversion but we were right back in the game 19-24. The last minutes of the game were frantic as we pushed time and again to get the winning score but Hull are not leaders for nothing. They were able to hold out and get the victory 19-24 and further extend their position at the top. We did get a winning bonus point and we could not fault the effort a commitment of the players which was unbelievable.

We have slipped down to third place after Rotherham had a good win but the margins at the top of the table are small and we still have six games to go to challenge for the honours. This Saturday we are at home to Chester a team who we had beaten convincingly at their ground but we are taking nothing for granted.

We have to regroup and focus on the next challenge so please come down to Park Lane and support the Tigers.

Cheers, Hazz