Coach’s Talk – A Report from Steve Hazzelby

Last Saturday we were on the long journey up to Northumberland to face old rivals Tynedale. We had beaten them quite comfortably at home in December but they are always a difficult team to play at home, with some good results against top teams.

They regarded themselves as our bogey team as we had not beaten them at their place for over twelve seasons. We had prepared well during the week but knew that this would be a massive challenge especially with over five of the normal starting players out with injury.

The game started very tentatively with both teams kicking for territory and it was Tynedale who scored first with a catch and drive try through their big powerful forwards after we gave a penalty away.

Playing with the wind we needed to get on the scoreboard and a lovely line break from scrum half Danny Openshaw took play deep into their 22. The ball was moved quickly for left winger Jacob Tansey to touch down. Steve Collins added the conversion and we were now level at 7-7 after twenty minutes. Shortly later a penalty ten metres out from the Tynedale line gave us a lineout which we drove over for hooker Matt Gallagher to give us our second try.

We were now playing some great rugby, testing the home team’s defences at every opportunity, varying play left and right and driving through the middle. A lovely play out wide on the right saw winger Jacob Tansey race through to feed flanker Ryan Wolfenden, who touched down near the posts. Steve added the conversion and we went into half time with a strong 19-7 lead.

We expected a big reaction from the home team, who were now playing with the wind, but the reaction came from the Tigers with winger Jacob Tansey scoring his second try after he collected a beautiful cross kick from captain Matt Riley. Steve added the conversion and we were now 26-7 up with the bonus point secured.

The intense pressure from the Tigers was relentless, taking full control of the game, for which Tynedale had little answer. Our fifth try came when the ball was moved wide to the left and saw Hooker Matt Gallagher race in for his second score and take him within touching distance of the club record of 34 for the season.

A further two tries were to follow with winger Rhys Henderson and full back Andy Riley touching down after multiple phases and inter play between backs and forwards. Steve added his fifth conversion of the afternoon and the game finished 45-14 to the Tigers with Tynedale looking shell shocked.

Make no mistake this has to be one of the best performances of the season and one of which all the players can be extremely proud. All the young players who came into the team because of the injuries certainly stepped up and put in a massive effort.

We are now in joint second place after Rotherham were surprisingly beaten at Huddersfield and with four games to go, we will keep the pressure on leaders Hull.

On Saturday we are at home to Loughborough Students. We had beaten them well at their ground back in December but we are taking nothing for granted and need to put in another solid performance if we are to get the points.

Please come down to Park Lane and support this special Tigers team.

Cheers, Hazz