Coach’s Talk – A season end report from Steve Hazzelby

Last Saturday was our last game of the season away to old rivals Otley and what a season it has been. We had won the league the week before when we beat Sheffield Tigers at home so many would think that this game was not important but that was never in our heads. We wanted to finish the campaign with a winning performance and so it turned out to be. Otley had only lost one game at home all season and this was always going to be a difficult challenge.
We started strongly with good pressure inside their half and a lovely little chip over their defence by Steve Collins was gathered by full back Andy Riley to give us our first score. Steve converted and we were 7-0 up after five minutes. Otley are a strong, powerful team who play hard open rugby but they could not break down our defences. They did get a penalty after twenty minutes to but we got our second try when star man Joe Bedlow came off Matt Riley’s shoulder to score under the posts. Steve added the conversion and we were now 14-3 up going into the last ten minutes of the half.
Five minutes later Steve Collins himself added the third try with a lovely line break to bring the half time score 21-3 to the Tigers.
Otley started the second half strongly with a well worked try of their own after a good line break in the centre to get back into the game 21-10 but the day belonged to the Tigers. A strong run down the right by winger Rhys Henderson brought our fourth and bonus point try and we won the game 28-10.
After the game the players were presented with their winners medals and inspirational captain Matt Riley collected the League trophy and the NCA trophy.
It is hard to put into put into words how good this season has been. Our playing record was played 26, won 24, drawn 1 and lost 1, an unbelievable achievement. Steve Collins was playing his 250th game for the club and was presented with his cap on the day. Nineteen year old Will Bradley who has been at the club since he was five was making his debut and No. 8 Greg Morgan was impressive in his first start. The whole squad of players including the second and third team players are the reason we finished as Champions. The hard work and effort that they have put into every training session and game has been phenomenal. Led by our Head coach Scott Barrow, his team of coaches and management team it has been a wonderful achievement.
It has been extra special to many of our senior players who have mentored and guided many of the younger players who have gelled so well into the team. Captained by Matt Riley, vice captain Bob Birtwell and the Tigers back room team of Mark Goodman, Tom Ailes, Oli Glasse, Steve Collins and Ben Black it has given us so many highlights both home and away.
We will enjoy the short break before we go again and prepare for the huge challenge that National One rugby will bring. The support that we have received throughout the season has been fantastic and look forward to it going forward.