Director of rugby Dan Richmond believes Sheffield Tigers’ narrow loss to league leaders Macclesfield will make the league stand up and take notice ahead of a crucial second half to the season.
In their final league game of 2013, Tigers pushed Macclesfield all the way but eventually slipped to a 21-20 defeat at Priory Park.
They picked up a bonus point - but Richmond was disappointed not to pick up all three, especially after Alex Drage’s hat-trick of tries.
“We gained one point but it feels like we lost three,” he said.
“Some guys were given their opportunity and took their chance and, man for man, we prevented them from gaining dominance.
“Credit to Macclesfield; they took their chances when they came. But for large periods, it was back and forth and we flew into every tackle.
“The league will stand up and take notice after a result like that because, in the end, three points have escaped us.”
Richmond’s side will begin the New Year just four points away from of the safety positions, ahead of this weekend’s visit of fourth-placed Sedgley Park.
Tigers lost 29-17 back in September to Saturday’s opponents - but the former Northampton Saints captain believes his side will prove a different animal for the remainder of the campaign.
“There has been a natural cycle of transition since the summer and we have had to settle a lot of new players in,” Richmond said.
“The understanding of the players has improved greatly which showed against Macclesfield.
“We have found a way to win games and, as we have seen, everyone is capable of beating each other on their day. Now, it’s time for the players to step up.”
Meanwhile, Ben Wade has highlighted January as a key month in Sheffield RUFC’s season as they look to climb off the foot of the North 1 East table.
Mid-table side Old Crossleyans visit Abbeydale Park for the first game of 2014 this Saturday and, following a trip to league leaders Cleckheaton, Sheffield face second bottom Northern and Alnwick, who are still in the battle against relegation.
Despite the club being 16 points from safety Wade, Sheffield’s director of rugby, believes that the club can still get out of their situation as they look to improve on their record of just one win from their 14 games to date.
“We lost some key players at the start of the season,” Wade said.
“And we have a bigger squad now, which relies on each other rather than key individuals,.
“We’re all still happy with each other, we’re still training well and giving everything 100 per cent.
“But results just haven’t fallen for us.
“Being bottom of the table is in the back of our minds, as we are well away from the other teams in the bottom three.
“This is a key month for us because we play a couple of teams that are around us and, if we play to our very best, we will get the results we need.
“We know where we will stand at the end of the month.”
Wade is hoping to recruit a hooker and a prop in the next couple of weeks, as he looks to add more strength in depth to his roster.
Sheffield travelled to Rochdale with a threadbare squad, and Wade and his coaching staff had to take to the field in a 30-14 defeat.
Wade also suggested that players from the Colts squad will be promoted to the first team in the coming weeks.