Sedgley Park coach, Steve Hazzelby says the team can look back at their season in National One with pride after a good campaign following promotion.

Having won National Two North at the end of the 2022/23, the Tigers were relishing a return to the level competing against some of the most experienced and successful teams who make up the top 32 sides in the country.

And Hazzelby admits the main aim in the first season back at a higher level was survival.

He said: “Having been at this level before we knew this would be an extremely challenging and hard campaign and our aim was to survive in the league and not go straight down again as Hull did the season before.

“We anticipated the physical demand on the players would be a big factor if we were to be successful so we started pre-season training early and the response from the whole squad was exceptional with everyone buying into the challenges ahead.”

The Tigers recruited well with the signing of fly-half Warren Seals, from Darlington Mowden Park, flanker Lewis Bradley, from Huddersfield, and scrum-half Matt Sturgess, from Fylde.

They also had a number of the Sale Sharks Academy players on dual registration which would prove to be essential as the season went on.

Hazzelby went on: “We started unbelievably well, recording nine wins out of 12 games before the Christmas break. This included wins against Chinnor (who won the league), fifth-placed Birmingham Moseley and Richmond, who finished sixth.

“We also won the local derby against Sale FC, who had only narrowly missed out on promotion to the Championship the season before.

“Unfortunately, our form after Christmas took a dip as we lost narrowly to Blackheath, away at Chinnor, to Darlington Mowden Park and a draw against Rosslyn Park.

“The effort and commitment of the players cannot be questioned and it is fair to say all of the teams had studied and analysed the way we had played in the first half of the season.”

Victories against Cinderford and Plymouth Albion at the end of the season ensured Sedgley’s place in National One for next season as they finished ninth in the final table.

Hazzelby added: “We are obviously disappointed with some of our performances in the second half of the season and have to learn a number of lessons going forward, especially the need to capitalise on chances created and the ability to finish games off.

“However, overall this has been a very successful season for the Tigers and we are looking forward to the next campaign.

“We had our annual players dinner last Friday where we said our farewells to two stalwarts of the squad, Danny Maher (hooker) and Mark Goodman (flanker), who have given their all over the years and we wish them well for the future.

“It was also a special night for Lewis Bradley in his first season for the Tigers who was voted players’ player of the season and coaches’ player of the season - a great achievement for a special player who has a great future ahead of him.”