Historic challenge for Tigers

Sheffield Tigers Nick Pearson is tackled just before the try line
Sheffield Tigers Nick Pearson is tackled just before the try line

Sheffield Tigers face the ultimate challenge on Saturday as they continue their quest to establish themselves in National 2 North.

They go to leaders Loughborough Students for a historic first ever league meeting between the two clubs and ready to bridge a 19 point gap.

Tigers are currently sixth from bottom with 24 points from 11 matches while Loughborough hold a five point advantage over second-place Caldy, having tasted just two defeats.

It will be a big ask for the Dore Moor side as they look to regroup after last Saturday’s disappointing 18-14 home defeat to Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield.

They did at least gain a losing bonus point but it could and should have been more.

The visitors came with a game plan that did not incorporate much open rugby but Tigers were left to rue too many mistakes and knock-ons while a yellow card again proved costly.

Huddersfield scored an unconverted try with the match just six minutes old and they added three more points in the 15 minute after Tigers again conceded a penalty at a ruck. The gap was closed within four minutes when Nick Pearson eased in for an easy five pointer and Jonny West added the conversion.

More pressure followed but knock ons saw opportunities wasted before Tigers created something out of nothing to take the lead on the half hour. Former Rotherham Titan’s player Peter Swatkins made ground down the left with an outside arching run before releasing winger Jamie Broadley whose well-timed return pass saw Swatkins race over.

West converted and the 14-8 stood at the interval.

Richard Joel, who had been sidelined for a number of weeks with a knee problem, replaced Steve Pearson early in the second half but Tigers found themselves under increasing pressure.

Then came the turning point in the match. Prop Mark Chivers was somewhat harshly penalised for not rolling away at a ruck and was yellow-carded. The scrum option was taken and Huddersfield bagged a converted try to take a one point lead with twelve minutes left. They continued to run the clock down and added a penalty two minutes from time to seal the win.

Tigers: Chivers, Thomson, Cone (Ross), Cook, Pearson S (Joel), MacKenzie, Pearson N, Hayter(C), Drage, West, Broadley, Buchanan, Outram, Graham, Swatkins. Replacements not used: Gidlow, Morley, Smyth

Man of the Match: Sam Cook – strong tackling and made good drives with the ball.