THE loss of four influential players had a devastating effect on Sedgley Tigers, who crashed to a humilating 61-17 defeat at Tynedale on Saturday.
Injuries had already ruled out Garth Dew and Richard Wainwright but the late withdrawals of former England Counties inside centre Matt Riley and Fraley Hopa proved decisive.
It was a bitter disappointment to Sedgley, who had bounced back from a poor start to the season to notch up five wins in their previous six games and establish a respectable mid-table position.
Assistant coach Dave Peet admitted the loss of players had abig bearing on the result, but could not hide his disappointment at the way the team failed to perform, particularly in the second half.
“We were devastated as we lost players in key areas,” he said.
“The lads who came in stepped up but we need the team to step up and they didn’t.
“We had poor execution and poor defence. We were only nine points down at the break and could have been leading if we had not spurned a chance.
“We thought the position was retrievable at half time as we were not playing too badly but we did not compete.
“Overall we made six changes to the squad that lined up the previous week and that has got to make a big difference.
“It was disappointing because we have concentrated on nothing but our defence over the past five weeks and we only conceded 18 points in our previous two games.”
The depleted Tigers took to the field with only 19 instead of the regulation 20 players.
Tynedale dominated from the outset and crossed for their first touchdown after just four muinutes with a try for impressive hooker Stephen Ridley, and Gavin Beasley kicked the conversion.
Encouragingly, the Tigers fought back and Durham lad Richard Oxley replied with a touchdown two minutes later and Tom Leader converted before adding a penalty.
But the home side responded on the half hour when intelligent fly half Gavin Beasley saw a great opportunity out wide and found the waiting fullback Chris Harris with a sublime cross-field kick for their second try which was converted.
Five minutes before half time a missed tackle right in front of the post allowed the elusive outside centre Harry Mountain in for a try which was again converted.
The second half was a completely one-sided affair as Tynedale turned on the style, running in a string of tries.
Fergus Owen broke the sequence with a try which Leader converted but the home side soon responded by piling up more points.
The Tigers will be hoping for better fortunes when they entertain derby rivals Macclesfield on Saturday, but face a stern test against an in-form Cheshire side.
Only Riley, who was suffering from a viral infection, is expected to return, but Peet expects the Tigers to bounce back.