Jon Feeley can feel justifiably proud of his first season with Sheffield Tigers.
The full back has laid the foundation for the side’s promotion push with an incredible 21 tries - his best ever tally.
He was at it again in the final National Midlands 3 League clash at Scunthorpe with a hat-trick of tries that brought a 52-14 victory and a Play Off showdown against Chester at Dore Moor on Saturday (3pm).
“We can talk about me scoring 21 tries but it’s my job; it’s the one I do best,” he said. “I get the recognition but it’s the hard work from 14 other players that’s made it possible.”
The former Rotherham Titans player admits that he wasn’t really aware of the club when he was offered the player-coach role at the beginning of the season. He certainly knows about Tigers now and and more especially how cold Dore Moor can get in mid-winter!
“Obviously it was a big transition as I suddenly had to think of the needs of 30 other players before my own. It was a big learning curve but one I’ve throughly enjoyed.
“On the pitch I’ve really tried to maintain my own standards and hopefully raise those of the younger players around me. That’s certainly not been difficult as they all have the potential to make their mark.
“As far as this season’s concerned it’s all credit to the players; they’ve done a fantastic job. They’ve responded to the systems we’ve brought in, taken everything on board and really raised their levels. Saturday will be a really good yardstick. To finish runners-up in the North League is no mean feat so Chester deserve our respect but we’ll be focussing on how we’re going to beat them.
“We’ll look to our strengths. We’re a hard working, talented side and hopefully we’ll be good enough on the day.”
Feeley came to Dore Moor as part of a long term plan and is committed to the cause.
“I’m convinced Tigers have a long way to go as a club. We only have one other club in Sheffield to compete with and there’s definitely an untapped source out there both for players and spectators,” he added.
Tigers’ five point return from their success at Scunthorpe meant they climbed above Longton to take the runners-up spot by virtue of one more win.
Feeley put the first points on the board with his opening try after 19 minutes which Jonny West converted and six minutes later prop Sam Lockwood touched down for his 16th of the season and West added the extras.
Just before half time Feeley bagged his second when he side stepped two players to score under the posts and West again did the business.
The blitz contionued after the break as first Gregor Hayter went over for a converted try quickly followed by Callum Mackenzie’s touchdown and then a 60 metre run from Feeley saw him complete his triple. West landed the conversion and it was 40-0.
Tries from winger Gareth Morley and John Buchanan completed the romp.
Team: Lockwood (Ross), Thomson, Bunting (Cone), Joel, Hayter, Cook, Wragg, Barnes, Drage, West, Mackenzie, Buchanan, Outram (Wright), Morley, Feeley.
Man of the Match: Sam Cook
Final league statistics: Played 26, won 21, lost 5, for 783, against 379, difference 404, bonus points 17, total points 101.
Chester: Won 19, lost 7, for 599, against 435, bonus points 11, total points 83.
Tigers have a full squad to chose from with the exception of Nick Pearson who has not recovered from a knee injury. The Chester match marks the final appearance of prop Simon Bunting, who has decided to retire from the game.
‘Bunny’ joined Tigers three years ago and has played for both Rotherham Titans - at Premiership level - and Doncaster Knights.
Jamie Clark played for Scotland Under-20s last Friiday and has been selected for the World Cup squad.
The club’s annual awards for both senior and junior players will be held on Saturday (6.30pm start).