Sedgley Tigers coach Steve Hazzelby says the club’s first National One campaign has been a learning curve, but one they have been satisfied with.

Last Saturday’s 50-18 defeat at Richmond wrapped up a campaign that saw the Tigers finish ninth in the table out of 14 after last year’s promotion.

And they will be aiming for improvement in 2024/25.

Hazzelby said: “We were looking to finish off the campaign with a positive performance [at Richmond] against a very good and experienced National One team.

“They were lying one place above us in the table and had recorded a number of good wins against some of the top teams, so we knew that this would be a difficult ask - especially after a five-hour bus journey to the capital.

“We were disappointed with the second-half performance and need to learn from the experience as we go forward into next season.

“National One rugby is always a hard, physical challenge where you have to take your chances when they arise.

“Also, you have to concentrate for the full 80 minutes and keep up the effort and intensity and not knock off because teams will always come back at you.

“Despite this disappointment, we have to take the positives from the game, especially from the performances of some of the younger players. Flanker Oli Leatherbarrow and scrum-half Matt Sturgess had excellent games and the overall first-half performance was solid.

“We have lessons to learn going forward into next season but we are very pleased with the end result in finishing ninth and are looking forward to 2024/25.”

On Saturday, the early exchanges were even with both teams testing each other in the kick-chase battle and not wanting to give possession and territory away.

It was the Tigers who scored first with a penalty on 15 minutes converted by fly-half Warren Seals, and he followed this up with a second 10 minutes later. However, Richmond hit back just before the break with a well-worked converted try down the blind side to go into half time 7-6 in the lead.

Sedgley were confident they could respond in the second half and put in a winning performance, but it was the home side who scored first with a penalty in the 42nd minute - and a converted try two minutes later.

The Tigers hit back with a lovely try for scrum-half Matt Sturgess who latched on to a powerful line-break from flanker Oli Leatherbarrow and touched down under the posts. Seals added the conversion to get Sedgley right back in the game at 17-13 down with most of the half to go.

However, the next 10 minutes belonged to the home side who upped the tempo and pressure and scored four converted tries with the Tigers falling off tackles and turning over possession time after time.

They were now 43-13 down and chasing the game at every opportunity, but it was now out of reach.

They did manage to get a second try when winger Alex Wills went over in the left-hand corner, but the day belonged to Richmond who went on to record a big bonus-point win, and deservedly so.