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Sedgley Tigers facing top test away against league leaders
SEDGLEY Tigers will get a major test of their promotion credentials on Saturday when they visit leaders Stourbridge.
The Whitefield men are handily placed in fifth in the National League Two North after six games and in confident mood after two wins in their last two outings.
Eight points separate them and Stourbridge, and the clash is a potentially intriguing one after the Tigers have shown signs of getting into their stride in the last two games.
A 38-33 victory over Leicester Lions at Park Lane was more conclusive than the scoreline suggests.
A major plus of late has been the form of their back row, which earned high praise from Saturday’s visitors, while their forwards also proved they can handle the toughest of challenges when they played Macclesfield, the only other team with a 100 per cent record.
“The Leicester people said to us after the game they wished they had our backs,” said team manager Geoff Roberts.
Callum McShane, Steve Collins, Andy Riley and Richard Wainwright were among the impressive performers in that area, but it was the team performance which augurs well for the rest of the season, according to Roberts.
“We scored some cracking tries,” he said. “And we missed a few that we should have scored as well.
“It’s gradually coming together and we are in touch with the teams at the top, but there’s a long way to go.”
The only bad news was a knee injury to Ben Black which will keep him out for anything between two and six weeks.
But that will be counterbalanced by the return of Jamie Harrison in the next week or two after several weeks on the sidelines with a shoulder injury.
Tigers were never behind to their Midlands visitors on Saturday but could not kill them off.
Even when the Whitefield men were 38-19 ahead with 19 minutes to go the game still was not over.
Leicester came back with two converted tries in six minutes to set the home nerves jangling.
Roberts’ men saw the game out with no further score for the last 13 minutes.
Wainwright got the Tigers off to flying start for the second time in eight days.
After scoring in just 40 seconds the previous week, he took his time on Saturday as he waited until the second minute to put his side ahead.
Leicester levelled four minutes later, but Andy Riley hit back within two minutes and with both the home efforts converted by Collins, the Tigers held a 14-7 lead until the 32nd minute when the visitors levelled again.
Riley went over again on the stroke of half time and Jonny Bishop scored another try a minute into the second half, both converted by Collins. And when Collins kicked a penalty two minutes later, Tigers suddenly found themselves 31-14 ahead.
That was reduced to 38-19 then almost immediately extended to 39-19 by a Johnny Matthews try and Collins conversion, before Leicester staged their last strong but ultimately unsuccessful fightback.
“We kept pulling away and were well in front and they kept coming back,” said Roberts.
“The only area where we were under pressure was in the scrum. Everywhere else we were the better side.”