Sheffield Tigers took a big step towards securing their National League Two North status with a 25-20 victory at home to bottom team Luctonians last weekend.
The Dore Moor side were made the work for the points, however. A sluggish start saw the visitors, fresh off the back of a rare victory last time out, take a 12-0 lead before Mark Ireland’s penalty got the Tigers on the scoreboard.
They deficit was further reduced when Tom Hart crossed the line for his first try of the season, but Ireland was unable to convert.
The visitors responded well, however, and a penalty on the stroke of half-time extended their advantage to 15-8 at the break. A better start in the second-half saw Tigers level the scores through Peter Swatkins’ converted try.
Tigers continued to pressure and a penalty allowed them to gain valuable territory. From this they set up a rolling maul before quickly shifting the ball out wide for Louis Taylor to score.
With Tigers moving into the lead for the first time, their opponents were galvanised and replied with plenty of attacking pressure. A rolling maul move eventually saw them crash over the line to level the score with ten minutes remaining.
But, Tigers’ spirit was not broken. They attacked their opponents immediately from the restart and got their reward when Jamie Broadley forced his way over the line to secure a bonus-point victory.
Tigers remain in tenth place having now collected 49 points. That figure is just two points fewer than last season’s final tally of 51, with seven matches still to play.
They travel to second-placed Stourbridge this weekend hoping to replicate arguably their finest result of the campaign to date when they beat the Midlands side 20-14 in November.
Meanwhile, Sheffield RUFC’s hopes of staying up were dealt a blow as they lost 29-23 away to relegation rivals Blaydon. Sheffield found themselves 12-0 down early only before Gareth Morley’s try made it 12-5. Blaydon responded with a converted try to extend their lead, but a converted try curtesy of Steve Depledge gave Sheffield hope of taking something from the match. That set the theme for the second-half as Blaydon moved ahead twice, before being clawed back on both occasions to within a single score.
Two Steve Depledge penalties and a late unconverted try were not enough, however, as Blaydon held off late pressure to hold on for victory.
A losing bonus-point was Sheffield’s consolation. The result leaves them six points from safety. They host Macclesfield this weekend.