SEDGLEY Tigers kicked off their campaign in National Two North with a 16-13 victory at home to perennial challengers Caldy.

New number seven Max Skofic scored the decisive try six minutes from time, going over after collecting a pass from Johnny Matthews following a 50-metre break.

Up to that point, the home side had made heavy weather of their opening league game of the season, which was played in torrential rain.

They conceded a try from Jack Lavin, who converted it himself, just after the half-hour mark to go into the break 7-0 down.

Lavin and Steve Collins traded two penalties each in the second half, before Collins kicked a third to bring Sedgley within four points on 68 minutes.

The Park Lane outfit then went ahead for the first time in the match with Skofic's try four minutes later before Collins added the extras to round off the scoring.

"It was one of those days," said coach Geoff Roberts.

"It was horrendous weather. Heavy rain put a dampener on proceedings, spoiling the rugby for both sides.

"It was very much a kicking game, much more aerial stuff than you would normally expect at this time of year.

"The ball was greasy and made it more of a lottery, with attacks continually breaking down.

"Their try came from a missed tackle, and they went straight through to score.

"In the second half there were a few penalties exchanged and we managed to narrow the gap.

"Then we made a great break from inside our own 22. Johnny Matthews carried it for 50 metres and our new signing, number seven Max Skofic, rounded it off for a debut try. We kicked the goal and that was it."

Roberts took great confidence from the gutsy display, grinding out the win against a Caldy side that beat Sedgley home and away last season and are expected to challenge for the title.

"We have traditionally had the ball players in our side to win games in good conditions, but have dropped points in recent seasons during the winter, when you rely on your grafters to see you through," said Roberts.

"If we can improve that side of our game, and we showed we can against Caldy, then we have the chance to go one better than last season."

Sedgley finished runners-up to Macclesfield then missed out on promotion after losing the play-off at National Two South side Old Albanians.

They have rebuilt over the summer, with nine of last season's squad leaving.

Shaun Manley has joined the Marines and Danny Waddy has taken up a teaching post overseas.

Matt Lamprey has joined Fylde, Oli Parkinson has moved to Macclesfield, Liam West has returned to Aspull, Rhodri Carlton Jones has joined Waterloo and Curtis Strong has moved to Rossendale.

Tom Dewland is taking a year off to further his studies and Harri Greville is moving to Australia with his job at Kelloggs.

But first-team coach Dean Schofield has brought in 12 replacements.

George Hymes returns at prop after a year out with a knee injury. Shaun’s brother, Mike Manley, has replaced him in the squad with other new faces in the back row including Skofic, from Waterloo, Alex Powell, from Wharfedale, and homegrown talent Tom Whitten, who returns following a year in Australia.

Mike Quickenden also returns after a short spell playing rugby league.

George Nain has joined from Leicester Lions to cover West's departure at hooker, while in the engine room, second rower Shaun Needham arrives from Rochdale and Rich Wainwright returns following a stint in London.

They are joined by scrum-half Tom Holloway, from Waterloo, Mat King, a wing from Macclesfield, and Will Bates, a scrum-half and utility back who has played rugby union at Bolton and rugby league with Bolton Mets.

"We have come third and second in the last two seasons so let's hope we can show that progression and take top spot," added Roberts.

"We will need a bit of luck, but if we can stay clear of injuries then we will be there or thereabouts.

"It is difficult to predict how strong the division is in comparison to previous years, but I would say we have more strength in depth.

"We have 30 players in the squad who I feel are stronger than the one-to-30 we had last year.

"So we have ability running through the squad, but we know every game will be difficult so we have to be ready to compete."