Six of the best to keep Tigers’ status

Sheffield Tigers Jon Buchanan bursts forward with Tom Outram in support
Sheffield Tigers Jon Buchanan bursts forward with Tom Outram in support

Sheffield Tigers have a target to aim for between now and the end of their history-making National 2 North campaign.

Director of Rugby Richard Senior feels that six wins from their remaining 14 matches should preserve their status in their first ever season at this level.

Anything else would be a bonus considering the injury problems they’ve had but the indications are that Tigers are certainly good enough to survive.

“It’s not an over-the-top target but it’s one that I think should guarantee safety,” said Senior. “It’s been tough, as we expected it would be but we’ve shown that we’re capable of making an impression in this league.”

This was certainly the case in Tigers latest clash at fourth-placed Westoe when they were desperately unlucky to leave the North East with not even a losing bonus point.

They didn’t make the best of starts as they found themselves trailing to a converted try within three minutes and a drop goal three minutes later.

Tigers finally took advantage of the slope with some excellent tactical kicking from fly-half Jonny West and they reduced the deficit to three points in the ninth minute after Sam Cook won fine lineout ball. Jon Buchanan took the ball up and from the ruck and scrum-half Alex Drage fed quick ball to flanker Will Smyth on the charge and from 40 metres out he brushed off numerous defenders to score close to the posts. West bagged the extras.

The Dore Moor side continued to soak up the pressure and on 23 minutes they took the lead when a quick tap penalty by skipper Gregor Hayter, with support from Matt Gidlow, allowed West to scamper under the posts and he added his own conversion.

Westow his back in the 34 minute with an unconverted try but Tigers responded in superb style via a catch and drive by the forwards. The ball was released to the backs and Jamie Broadley entered the line from the blindside and gave the scoring pass to the supporting Buchanan who ran in unopposed. West again converted to give them a 21-15 half-time advantage.

Five minutes into the second half and Tigers found themselves down to 14 men after Smyth was yellow carded for pulling down a driving maul. Three minutes later the home side notched a converted try to take a one point lead.

Hayter then made an excellent break of some 40 metres but it was followed by an exchange of blows which resulted in Hayter and the Westoe wing being sent to the sin-bin. With Tigers down to 13, the home side took full advantage and helped themselves to a converted try to open up an eight point gap.

Club captain Andrew Barnes came on for a cameo performance after a long injury lay-off and although Tigers mounted attack after attack with Tom Outram very unfortunate when a brilliant break was foiled by an excellent tackle, they couldn’t breach the Westoe wall.

Tigers: Chivers, Gidlow (Cone 60), Ross, Cook, Joel, Smyth (MacKenzie 60 (Barnes 72)), Pearson N, Hayter(C), Drage, West, Broadley, Buchanan, Outram, Graham, Swatkins, Pearson J (Graham 60)

Man of the match: Jon Buchanan – fantastic defence, great ball carrying and a try.

Seventh-placed Tigers host Hull, who stand one place above them, on Saturday (2.15) before the Christmas/New Year break.