Sedgley Dominate the Battle of the Tigers

Sedgley Tigers
Sedgley breakaway through Sheffield defence

This weekend National 2 North saw ‘the battle of the tigers’ as Sedgley Tigers welcomed Sheffield Tigers to Manchester.

The game was a fiercely competitive match, which Sedgley dominated for long spells and coming out as eventual winners, with a final score of 29-17.

The home side began the stronger, as they have done for most of this season, with powerful forward play dominating the break downs and the loose play.

Good, quick ball was created for Sedgley’s half back pairing of Paul Urmston and Steve Collins, who looked threatening from early on; however, support was poor from the remaining backs, who could not capitalise on good field position and a number of opportunities.

However, the breakthrough did eventually come, as flanker Matt Lamprey picked a good line from deep and hurtled over the line for the first try of the game. Collins added the extras, to give Sedgley an early 7-0 lead.

Straight from the re-start the home side moved the ball right back into the Sheffield half, moving the ball from left to right, deep into the visitors 22.

A vast array of powerful short bursts and pick and goes brought Sedgley close to the line, until a shocking pass was hurled out wide from Tigers winger Billy Fisher, which was duly intercepted by Sheffield Tiger, and former Sedgley player, Peter Swatkins, who ran the ball the length of the field for the visitors opening score.

The try was a complete carbon copy of Preston Grasshopper’s first try against Sedgley last weekend. The extras were missed to leave the score 7-5.

Again, the home side hit back straight away from the re-start, bringing the ball deep into the Sheffield half. Sedgley Captain, Juan Crous made a superb break and found himself heading for the line with two supporting players. However, an uncharacteristic bad decision from the back row saw him keep the ball in hand and go for the line himself, eventually falling short after a brilliant tackle; leaving another try chance going begging.

The visitors tried to clear their lines but couldn’t, handing the initiative back to Sedgley, who, again, brought the ball deep into the Sheffield half.

The Tigers pack managed to hold onto the ball, after a half of disappointing handling, as they trundled down the right wing. The try eventually came as loose head prop, Ben Black burrowed over the line for the score; with Collins adding the extras.

The home side had the complete upper hand, as Sheffield were visibly out on their feet, holding on wherever they could.

A series for desperate, illegal tackles saw Steve Collins add another three points, but also missed a few opportunities before the break.

The two teams left the field, with Sedgley clearly in the ascendency leading 17-5.

As the game got underway again in the second half, the run of play was still the same as the first half, with Sedgley dominating play, but lacking the clinical edge needed to capitalise on all the opportunities created.

Sheffield were still trying to hold on by whatever means they could. A number of other discrepancies saw kicking opportunities go begging by the usually very accurate Steve Collins.

Finally, the breakthrough came, opening the scoring for the second half, as the Captain Juan Crous picked up from the back of a scrum inside the Sheffield 22 and crossed the line for a score.

The set piece worked well for Sedgley, who dominated a both the scrum and the lineout for the entire game.

Sedgley then began to turn the screw on their Tigers opposition, by keeping the ball in hand as much as they could, kicking into the corners. Hooker Johnny Mathews had another impressive game, consistently finding an array of jumpers, keeping the pressure up.

After a number of penalties, replacement scrum half Callum McShane showed a moment brilliance and took a quick tap, dancing through a shocked visiting defence, with Collins adding the extra two points.

After the try Sheffield began to spring back into life, and brought the ball back into the home side’s half for one of the first times in the half.

Then came the game’s most perplexing passage of play as, only 2 metres from the Sedgley line, a second penalty was awarded for not retreating 10 metres back from the first.

Although the home side only moved back two metres, behind the line after the infringement – as the rules state should be done – the referee did not believe that home side had moved back far enough, and then awarded a penalty try and a yellow card for Jimmy Lloyd.

The home crowd was in uproar, not just for the endeavour of the Sheffield pack, or the referee’s strange interpretation of the rules, but for the complete inconsistency of awarding penalties. After the visiting side’s countless number of desperate infringements, the home crowd were rightly frustrated to see a yellow awarded for one of Sedgley’s first.

The famous cricketing adage of ‘one brings two’ seemed highly appropriate in the following few minutes, as the referee awarded another yellow card, to Johnny Mathews, leaving the home side down to 13 men.

Sheffield capitalised on the advantage immediately with a try from their inside centre who was certainly their, and possibly the game’s standout player.

However, there was not enough time left for Sheffield to capitalise on the two man advantage, as the clock ran out and the home side recorded a deserved win, with a final score of 29-17.

Although the final result was an impressive margin for Sedgley, there is still a lot of room for improvement. Despite being the dominant pack, the Sedge forwards handling was poor for large periods of the game. Also, attacking pace on the wings looked to cause a number of problems for the Tigers defence once again.

Alongside Sheffield’s standout inside centre, both Sedgley second rows and back rows had impressive games, with a big impact being given from all of the home side’s second half replacements.

Sedgley will be looking to continue their winning ways next weekend as welcome Macclesfield to Manchester.

National League Rugby