Sedgley Park’s new year slump continued as they lost 22-14 at home to Bishop’s Stortford in National One on Saturday.

The Tigers have lost five and drawn one of six games in 2024 and despite a better display and valiant attempt at a comeback, coach Steve Hazzelby admits they will have to improve quickly if they are to end their winless run at Leicester Lions this weekend.

He said: “We had trained well during the week and were looking for a better performance after the disappointment of the previous game against Taunton Titans.

“We were extremely disappointed we could not get the win or anything to show for an excellent second-half effort.

“This was a better performance than the previous week, but we must take our chances when they arise and not let teams get in front so that we are playing catch-up rugby.

“We know that a massive improvement is needed if we are to get back to winning ways at Leicester.”

In difficult conditions at Park Lane, the Tigers began well last Saturday looking to build phases in the visitors’ 22.

However, a number of handling errors and unnecessary penalties gave their opponents the chance to clear their lines.

It was from one of these penalties Bishop’s Stortford got their first score after the ball was moved wide for their winger to touch down in the top right-hand corner, and they added the conversion to make it 7-0 after seven minutes.

Sedgley played well from the restart, looking to keep possession and pressure the visiting defence but, again, handling errors and penalties meant Bishop’s Stortford could clear their lines and relieve pressure.

The hosts had an excellent opportunity to get on the scoreboard with a lineout on the visitors’ five-metre line, but they lost the ball.

Bishop’s Stortford got their second try after another penalty gave them a lineout in the home side’s 22, from which their forwards kept the ball and drove over. The Tigers were now 14-0 down with nothing to show for their efforts.

A well-taken penalty from the halfway line saw the visitors extend their lead top 17-0 going into the final 15 minutes of the half.

Then they got their third score of the day after a scrum in the hosts’ 22. Their scrum-half broke blind and fed their full-back who touched down in the right-hand corner.

The Tigers went into the half-time break 22-0 down with a mountain to climb in the second half, and they started to play with power, momentum and continuity.

They looked after the ball well and got on the scoreboard in the 59th minute. A penalty catch-and-drive from the forwards saw hooker Harry Thompson touch down and fly-half Warren Seals added the conversion.

A few minutes later, another well-worked drive from the forwards saw prop Danny Rylance drive over in the top right-hand corner and another Seals conversion made it 22-14.

Conditions now got really bad with driving rain and wind making handling difficult and open rugby almost impossible.

The Tigers did get over the line for the third time but the try was disallowed with the referee saying they had knocked the ball.

They maintained the pressure with phase after phase but were unable to get any more points on the board.