Jimmy Pearson, Sheffield RUFC’s resolute captain, is urging his team to fight until the very end of the season in their battle to win the league after they staged a second half comeback to beat local rivals Wheatley Hills 20-11 at the weekend.
The 26-year-old watched on in first half disappointment as his side fell 11-3 behind to their South Yorkshire neighbours, courtesy of two penalty kicks from Owen Gilvray and a try from Carl Mortimer.
The Abbeydale Park side only had 10 per cent possession of the ball in the opening 40 minutes and the skipper - and former Sheffield Tigers player - was relieved not to concede any more points before the break, due to the resolute role the defence played.
“We just couldn’t get our hands on the ball because their forwards were dominating and controlling the game,” Pearson said.
“They were very powerful when they got on the ball and they made it very difficult for us.
“I was disappointed that we weren’t able to put phases of play together in the first half and when we had possession, we made wrong decisions with the ball.
“It was our defence that saved us. They were incredibly disciplined and kept us in the game.
“At half time I stressed to the players that we needed to take the pressure off our defence and get it out to attack.
“One thing that really worked was telling players to get lower in tackles so we could get the ball. Then it was vital that we kept possession by getting the basics right.”
Sheffield staged a second half comeback which was aided by the sin binning of two Wheatley players soon after the restart - including a yellow card after an opponent stamped on a Sheffield player.
Pearson’s side were able to take advantage with tries from Ben Parker, Ben Whitney and Rupert Broadley, to secure the 16th victory of their North One East league campaign in drizzly, cold conditions at Abbeydale.
“We immediately improved and got our head in the game,” Pearson added.
“It helped having them down to 13 players for a long period because we were able to stamp our authority and build up pressure.
“Everybody pulled together and we put important phases together. We were able to get the ball out wide and bring the backs into the game. And in the last 15 minutes we really dominated.”
Head coach Adam Byron added: “I was pleased we were able to use our advantage well and get back in the game. Initially it had been about us breaking down their forward line but finally we were able to bring our fast runners into the match.
“I was particularly pleased with Rupert’s try when he finished in the corner because it was a team try and came at the end of some excellent phase play from us.”
Sheffield remain at the top of the division with a six-point cushion over their closest contenders Ilkley. But they have had to dig deep in recent weeks and face a tricky match against fifth-placed Dinnington this weekend.
The Abbeydale Park club will be looking to maintain their perfect home record and repeat the result of the reverse fixture at the end of October, when they came away with a 22-0 victory.
But the skipper wants to see his side start picking up bonus points to help retain their lead at the top: “We are getting the wins but I want to see us playing with more flair and drive than we have done over the last few games,” Pearson added. “I want to see us creating lots of phases and looking to create space for players to run into. We have the quality in the backs so we need to show this.
“Our lead at the top is being eaten away as teams around us are picking up bonus points so from now on I want us getting those four tries in a game and start attacking with more menace.”
Bryon added: “All the players must pull together for each other, run the plays that we are good at and get that attacking spirit back again. I want us to start racking up the tries again starting this weekend.”