SEDGLEY Park’s winning start to the National Two North season was ended on Saturday by a 47-37 defeat at fellow unbeaten side South Leicester.

A kicking masterclass from the home side’s Rickie Aley proved to be the difference after the teams ran in five tries each. Aley, who scored South Leicester’s final try, kicked all five conversions and missed one out of five penalty attempts.

Tigers coach Geoff Roberts believes absentees and injuries to players in key positions also played their part in the defeat, which followed impressive opening wins at Sheffield Tigers and at home to Sale FC.

“They had an absolutely superb kicker,” said Roberts. “Apart from one penalty he just couldn’t miss and was putting them away from anywhere on the park – quite outstanding. But I felt we could have put South Leicester away if it wasn’t for injuries at key times.”

Sedgley were missing second-rower Bob Birtwell for the first of three matches while he attends a family wedding in Australia, while number 10 Steve Collins, who is also the regular kicker, was also unavailable due to family commitments.

Andy Riley deputised in the kicking department, and performed manfully, making two out of two penalties and three out of five conversion attempts. He also ran in two tries in the second half, putting the visitors 30-23 up with his first effort just before the hour mark after Matt Riley, Callum McShane and Jamie Harrison had run the ball over before the break.

But before Riley’s second try on the stroke of full time, South Leicester scored 24 unanswered points.

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“It was a see-saw game and you could never quite tell which way it was going to go,” said Roberts.

“But I felt injuries to key players tipped the balance in South Leicester’s favour.

“They scored just as our second-rower Shaun Needham was leaving the field to get a wrist injury attended to.

“Then Rob Holloway rolled his ankle and had to be substituted.

“With Steve (Collins) missing, we had no other number 10, so scrum-half Paul Urmston had to deputise and South Leicester never looked back after scoring from an interception from his pass.”

Sedgley have fallen to seventh and will look to get back to winning ways when they entertain unbeaten Hinckley, who are third, this weekend.