By Claire Cameron
SEDGLEY Tigers cooked up an early Christmas treat on Saturday as they beat Preston Grasshoppers 39-14 in the Lancashire “Hotpot” derby to secure their ninth consecutive victory in National League Two North.
Fifth-placed Tigers went into the match looking to avenge the 29-24 reverse they suffered against their local rivals, who currently sit in seventh place, in September.
Last week’s hat-trick hero, Johnny Matthews, and Mike Waywell both scored braces, with Waywell’s late try securing the bonus point to move the Tigers to within seven points of leaders Macclesfield.
Coach Geoff Roberts said: “We were kicking the goals so that we were assured of winning and we left ourselves very late to get the bonus point.
“We got the bonus point in the last play of the game. “We got a lineout on the far side, Preston got the ball and ran across to the other side of the field.
“As we tackled their guy, Waywell pinched the ball off him and ran half the length of the field to score, and give us our bonus point.
“The point has been handy really because Macclesfield only just scraped a win – 21-20 over Sheffield Tigers – so it’s taken us a point closer to them in the league.
“Instead of eight behind them we’re now seven points behind.”
In a scrappy encounter at Park Lane, Steve Collins eased Sedgley Tigers into a 6-0 lead with two penalties within the opening 15 minutes.
Waywell went over for a try in the 23rd minute with Collins adding the conversion to extend Tigers’ lead to 13-0 at half time.
After the break, Grasshoppers hit back with a try from Mohammad Mustafa, which was converted by Lewis Allen, before another brace of penalties from Collins again extended Tigers’ lead to 19-7 in the 56th minute.
Matthews scored a try in the 58th minute, with Collins again adding the extras before Adam Birchall went over for a Preston try and Allen again converted to take the scoring to 26-14 in the 63rd minute.
Collins added another penalty on 67 minutes before Matthews and Waywell scored two late tries to secure a 39-14 victory and the bonus point for the Tigers.
Summing up, Roberts said: “It was a tight affair in a fairly strong wind. “Preston came to Park Lane with a physical and spoiling sort of game to try and put us off, but what we did was build a score. “There were touches of individual brilliance – Waywell’s first try was cracking. It was certainly the best of the match.
“We pulled it off. It’s certainly all to play for now.”