Season over? That’s certainly not the case for four Sheffield Tigers players.
Skipper Andy Barnes, player-coach Gregor Hayter, Nick ‘Biffo’ Pearson and leading try scorer Jamie Broadley have been named in the Yorkshire squad for their County Championship campaign.
It should have been five but Jon Buchanan was forced to withdraw after suffering a torn hamstring in Tigers final match of the season against Bromsgrove.
Yorkshire face Cheshire in their opening Division One North clash at Macclesfield on Saturday and follow with matches against Lancashire and Northumberland with the winners booking a Twickenham showdown against the top team from the south.
It’s going to be tough as Lancashire will be looking to complete a fourth successive Bill Beaumont Cup triumph and Cheshire have upstaged Yorkshire for the last two years and while one team will be successful, another will be relegated.
The call up is well earned as all of them have played a big part in Tigers historic first season in National 2 North, in which they finished ninth with 73 points.
“All in all it’s been a successful season,” said Barnes. “Our aim was to ensure we stayed up and we’ve achieved that. Ninth out of 16 is pretty respectable and I’m looking forward to next season when hopefully we can push on and aim for a top six finish.
“It’s a big, physical league and very challenging, with some traditional big-name clubs but we mixed it with the best of them. One major plus was the exploits of Jamie Broadley and Peter Swatkins who scored 35 tries between them which was an excellent collective effort,” he added. Tigers will retain the majority of their squad although three players are set to move on. Try-scoring ace and backs coach Jon Feeley is to join Wharfdale, Harry Thompson is Doncaster-bound and second-row Sam Cook is returning home to Essex. Cook signed off with a 28 minute try in the Bromsgrove finale at Dore Moor. With Tigers holding a 6-0 lead courtesy of two Alex Graham penalties, a break by Broadley from his own half was well supported by Graham and winger Liam Wallace and ended with prop Mark Chivers delivering the pass to Cook for an unconverted try.
Shortly after the visitors got their first three points on the board but Tigers struck again three minutes into the second half when Wallace powered over in the corner to open up a 13 point lead. A spell of Bromsgrove pressure brought an unconverted try with eight minutes left but Barnes and Co. made sure there would be no unexpected ‘late show’ as they closed out 16-8 winners.
Team: Cone, Thomson, Chivers, Cook, Hayter, Pearson N, Barnes (Smyth), MacKenzie, Holmes, Outram, Graham, Buchanan (Wragg), Broadley, Wallace, Swatkins. Replacements not used: Pearson S, Ross, Whitworth.