Sheffield Tigers have shown they’re more than capable of mixing it with the best in National 2 North and this will be tested to the full on Saturday (3pm).
Ton-up table toppers and promotion certainties Loughborough Students are the visitors to Dore Moor and the week after they travel to third-placed Caldy.
Tigers will doubtless reflect on the clash at Loughborough last November when they were beaten 26-10 but the match was much closer than the scoreline would suggest. Loughborough, who have won 20, drawn two and lost just three so far, hit the 100 point mark after their comfortable 40-5 victory at bottom club Kendal to open up a massive 22 point gap over Huddersfield and Caldy.
Meanwhile mid-table Tigers set themselves up for their Match of the Day clash with a hard-earned 25-16 victory over Stockport, a success highlighted by a superb individual try from Jamie Broadley and a return to action of player-coach Gregor Hayter.
With Tom Outram and Andy Barnes still injured and Mark Chivers and Peter Swatkins unavailable it meant that younger players had the chance to make their mark while a further late change saw Jon Feeley replaced at full-back by Alex Graham. Tigers went behind to a drop goal after just two minutes but two penalties from Jonny West pushed them ahead after 19 minutes. Stockport levelled it up once more two minutes later and were then denied a certain try by a good tackle from Graham.
The half hour mark brought a quality try from the home side as Buchanan broke the defensive line and fed fellow centre Broadley whose pace and strength took him clear of defenders and round the full-back for a great individual effort from 50 metres out. Stockport cut the deficit to two points just before the break and then grabbed a five point lead five minutes into the second half with a converted try.
Tigers reply came via Biffo Pearson who was tackled just short of the line but the tackler was yellow carded and they made the most of the extra man as went over in the corner to tie the score at 16-all. West popped over a 40 metre penalty to give them the lead on 68 minutes and Stockport were then reduced to 13 players after two more yellow cards. Another penalty by West increased the lead to six points with six minutes to play and he was on hand to complete five out of five minutes later.
Team: Cone, Thomson, Ross (Ramsden), Cook, Joel, Smyth (Wragg), Pearson N, Hayter (c), Holmes (Drage), West, MacKenzie, Buchanan, Broadley, Wallace, Graham. Man of the Match: Charlie Cone – pillar of a solid Tigers scrum.