Four tries away from home but still defeated. It’s a tough roller-coaster ride at present for Sheffield Tigers.
Two vital lapses in concentration at the onset of the second half proved costly as they were edged out 26-22 at Nuneaton, which meant they pocketed two bonus points when it so easily could have been five.
Just to add to the so-near-yet-so-far scenario, Tigers lost their inflential skipper Andy Barnes with a shoulder injury and powerhouse Jon Buchanan to a nasty head injury, to add to the problems already surrounding Jon Feeley, Richard Joel and Matt Gidlow, who were all sidelined for the Nuneaton clash.
The Dore Moor side fell behind after six minutes to a Chapman penalty and he was on hand to extend the advantage to 9-0 with two further penalties by the 20 minute.
Tigers regrouped and Jamies Broadley and Alex Drage both went close before they opened their account with a superb try three minutes before half time. Gregor Hayter’s deft pass to the supporting Jon Buchanan saw him give a sublime dummy to the defenders and score wide out on the left. Jonny West was unable to convert and they went into the break 9-5 down.
Any hopes Tigers had of continuing the pressure game was ended within a minute of the restart when sloppy defending saw the home side went over for an unconverted try. Five minutes later Nuneaton’s Elliot Brown beat three defenders to score a fine individual try in the corner which Chapman converted to put them futher ahead at 21-5.
It looked all over but this Tigers side is made of sterner stuff and West sliced open the home defence to score under the post on 54 minutes and added the conversion.
It signalled a spell of excellent rugby from the Sheffield side that resulted in another near miss from Drage. However from the resulting ruck the ball was swiftly transferred across the pitch for Broadley to score an unconverted try to close the gap to 21-17 on the hour mark.
Unfortunately, another lapse in concentration allowed the home side to bag an unconverted try but Tigers came storming back with the pack driving Man of the Match Nick Pearson over the line for a bonus point try to cut the deficit to four points.
They camped on the home line for the next few minutes but were unable to break the Nuneaton defence.
Team: Bunting, Thomson, Cone (Ross), Hayter, Cook, Pearson N, MacKenzie, Barnes (Wragg), Drage, West, Broadley, Buchanan (Morley), Outram, Clark (Graham), Swatkins. Replacement not used: Whitworth. Tigers host Preston Grasshoppers on Saturday (3.00pm).