Sedgley Park coach Steve Hazzelby says Saturday’s last-gasp 34-31 home defeat to Darlington Mowden Park was a bitter pill to swallow after an improved display in National One.

The defeat extends the winless run in 2024 for the Tigers who face a local derby against Sale FC this weekend.

With the last kick of the game, the visitors kicked a penalty to win and Hazzelby admitted: “This was a bitter pill to swallow for the Tigers as we had produced a winning performance outscoring them with five tries to four, but leaving another 10 points through missed kicks behind.

“They are a big, well-organised team who have played at National one level for many years and had beaten us at their ground earlier in the season.

“As it turned out it was a wonderful game of rugby for the neutral spectator with nine tries being scored but unfortunately frustration right at the end for us.”

Sedgley started really strongly playing with momentum and continuity and a sharp line break from number eight, Tom Ailes, saw him sprint 35 metres to score their first try, though Warren Seals hit the upright with the conversion.

The visitors hit back almost immediately with a well-worked converted try in the bottom left hand corner after powerful driving play by their forwards to take the lead.

The home side had a chance to retake the lead with a penalty after 10 minutes but were unable to convert into a strong wind, but a well-worked catch-and-drive lineout five metres from the visitors line saw flanker Lewis Bradley score a second try and Seals added the conversion.

Sedgley went further ahead 12 minutes later when fly-half Seals intercepted a pass to sprint 60 metres and touch down under the posts before converting his own try to make it 19-7.

Darlington hit back strongly with their second converted try after a powerful drive by their forwards three minutes later, then added a penalty to reduce the lead to 19-17. Then, against the run of play, a break out of a line-break by their scrum-half saw him kick ahead, which was collected by back row Adam Scott to touch down in the left-hand corner. Fly-half Louie Johnson added the conversion to give the visitors a 24-19 half-time lead.

The hosts were out positively in the second half playing down the slope with the wind at their backs and a wonderful passage of play between forwards and backs ended with full-back Andy Riley scoring a brilliant try in the bottom right-hand corner to level the scores. This was a fourth score and gave the Tigers a bonus point.

A lovely line break by the visitors’ fly-half in the 54th minute saw them score their fourth bonus-point try and he also added the conversion to put them back in the lead 31-24.

Sedgley rang the changes hoping for fresh energy from the bench and continued to pressure the visitors, both in attack and defence.

A powerful drive from replacement prop Ozzie Downham gave them a fifth try, converted by Seals to level the scores at 31 apiece, with eight minutes to go.

The hosts had the chance to go further ahead with a penalty in the 77th minute but were unable to convert.

Then, with the last play of the game, Darlington were awarded a penalty wide out on the touchline 35 metres out and fly-half Johnson, who had not missed a kick all afternoon, stepped up and put the ball between the posts to take the win.