SUPER sub Tom Leader helped Sedgley Park continue their superb National League One form.
The Tigers secured their fifth win in six games as they thumped lowly Barking 23-8 at Park Lane.
Full-back Leader impressed on his debut after being thrown in at the deep end following a flurry of injuries in the opening 10 minutes.
But Sedgley overcame the setbacks to run out convincing winners – and are now targeting a top-five spot.
“Tom did us proud,” said assistant coach Rob Smith. “He came in for his first start and was brilliant.
“The top three have got away from us a little bit, but I’m confident that we can finish in the top five.”
Tigers’ victory was slightly marred by injury to several key personnel.
The most significant was to captain Garth Dew, who looks to have suffered a ruptured medial ligament and is facing a long absence.
Full-back Richard Wainwright also had to be withdrawn with a pulled hamstring.
But the dire situation has not dimmed Smith’s hopes of climbing the table ahead of Saturday’s game at mid-table Tynedale.
He said: “We have two games before Christmas and we are looking to keep pushing on. We have a trip to Tynedale, which is always tough.
“We then have another very winnable game at home to Macclesfield in our final game before the Christmas break. If we win both of them, we’ll be really motoring in the league.”
After falling behind to an early penalty, Sedgley took charge thanks to Fergus Owen’s opening try on 15 minutes. Matt Riley increased the advantage by adding two penalties to his earlier conversion to give the home side a 13-3 lead at the break.
Sedgley continued to dominate the second period, but Barking hit back with a try of their own as they began to impose themselves.
But, with some spirited defending, Sedgley weathered the danger and the points were confirmed when man-of-the-match Richard Oxley fended off several tackles to dive for the line.
Prop Danny Birchall sealed the victory in style when ran 40 yards to touch down.
Riley completed the scoring with a penalty to ensure the Tigers head into the festive period in a rich vein of form.