Tigers look to second string

First published in Rugby by

SEDGLEY Park head coach Rich Senior will take advantage of a free weekend to check out the quality of talent in the club’s second team after counting the cost of more self-inflicted wounds.

The Tigers came within four points of ending their quest for a first league victory over Blackheath at Park Lane on Saturday, only to be beaten by a last-gasp try.

And the story of the 37-30 defeat was a familiar one with the Tigers being punished – as they have on so many occasions this season – for making avoidable mistakes at crucial phases of the game.

They were in sight of victory in an excitingly close tussle when Adam Lewis went over in the corner for their fourth try of the match to give them a 30-25 lead with 10 minutes to go.

But the Londoners drew level six minutes later when Dave Allen scored their second pushover try and, with just a minute left on the clock, they snatched victory when fly-half Sam Windsor gathered a kick, created an overlap on the left and sent winger James Stephenson over for their sixth and match-winning try.

“We should have closed the game out,” said coach Dave Peet, “but individual mistakes have again cost us dear – as they have all season.

“Even in the first half when we played quite well, we conceded 13 points through our own fault – indiscipline, intangibles, people making silly, individual errors.

“We made a very poor error in the first minute that led to them being camped on our line for 13 minutes – and eventually saw them score – then after we’d got it back to lead 15-13 at half time, two more errors cost us two more tries.”

Victory on Saturday would have justified Senior targeting a top-four finish and, although smarting from a morale-wounding defeat, the Park Lane coaching staff are still setting their sights high.

“Realistically, if we had won at the weekend we’d have gone to sixth and been able to start looking up the table instead of down,” Peet said. “And if we win 50 per cent of our remaining games we should finish in the top eight but we just seem to have this ability to implode.

“We’ll use the weekend off to look at the second team who play Fylde. There are two or three players we’ll be having a look at.”

The Tigers could not have come closer to laying their Blackheath bogey in a duel that was nip and tuck throughout and saw them come from behind to take the lead on three occasions - the third seemingly a match-winning position.

Richard Windsor put the visitors ahead with the game's opening try but Senior's men were ahead five minutes later when Danny Birchall crossed for a try which Matt Riley converted.

A Riley penalty stretched the lead to five points but Sam Windsor followed suit to reduce the arrears and Allen's try on 35 minutes restored the Blackheath lead.

Will Runciman's try two minutes before the interval gave Tigers the psychological advantage of being in front at the turn round, but that advantage was soon surrendered as Stephenson and Mike Canty scores gave Blackheath a 25-15 lead.

Riley reduced the deficit with a penalty before Senior’s tactical switch of putting Simon Parrott to scrum half and Chris Parrott, who started at centre, taking up his normal fly-half position, turned the game back in Sedgley's favour with Chris going over for a score that, with Riley converting, levelled the match.

When Lewis went over to put the Tigers ahead once more on 70 minutes, that elusive first win against Club - as Blackheath are known - looked on the cards.

But, in the end, they contributed to their own downfall.

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