Simon Bunting came out of ‘retirement’ and skipper Andy Barnes returned to action after injury for Sheffield Tigers’ first home match of their National North 2 League campaign.
Unfortunately it proved to be a disappointing home coming for ‘Bunny,’ Barnes and the Dore Moor side as they suffered a 24-13 defeat to Westoe.
Tigers have still to get grips with what’s expected of them in this league - the highest level they’ve ever played at - but they can take heart from their performance against a team who finished fourth last season and are expected to be in the promotion shake-up at the end of the season.
It was certainly a much improved performance from their opening day defeat at Bromsgrove.
They led 13-12 on the hour mark and were in contention until the final few minutes when Westoe nailed an unconverted try.
“We were always in with a chance but in the last 10 minutes or so we lost a bit of concentration and we paid for it,” said ‘Bunny,’ whose ‘retirement’ lasted all of four months as the vastly experienced prop put his plans on hold and answered the return-to-duty call.
“It’s disappointing but there’s enough quality in this side to see us through,” he added.
“I’m keeping myself fit and I’m always willing to help the club out if they need me - but not every week!”
He’s not available for the first of two successive away fixtures, at Hull on Saturday but may return for the following week’s clash at Harrogate.
Result apart, Barnes felt there were a number of positives to take from the performance.
“It was certainly a vast improvement on the week before,” he said.
“There was a lot more commitment and we only lost it late on, which in itself was encouraging given the quality of the opposition.
“Westoe have established themselves in this league, they know what’s expected and they’re looking for success this season.
“We made a slow start last season before putting it all together but we can only use that ‘excuse’ for the next couple of weeks!
“The lads knew it wasn’t going to be easy but the Hull game - like Tigers they’ve lost the opening two games - will be a good measure of where we’re up to,” he added.
Tigers got off to a flying start when, from a resultant line out, the forwards drove to the line and player-coach Gregor Hayter touched down after just two minutes for an unconverted try.
Westoe then dominated territory for the rest of the half. They levelled it up after 12 minutes and added a converted try just before half-time to take a 12-5 lead.
The start of the second half saw Tigers worst spell of the match although, ironically, it didn’t cost them further points and in the 51st minute they scored their second try when a quick tap penalty near the half-way line saw slick handling between Jon Buchanan, MacKenzie and Hayter result in Broadley going over.
West then added a penalty on the hour mark to give his side a one point advantage but with 14 minutes to play the visitors bagged a converted try and then applied the coup de gras in the closing minutes.
Tigers: Chivers (Cone), Thomson (Gidlow), Bunting (Lockwood), Hayter, Joel, Cook (Wragg), Mackenzie, Barnes (c), Clark, West, Broadley, Buchanan, Outram (Graham), Morley, Feeley. Replacements all used.