SEDGLEY Tigers coach Geoff Roberts has urged his players to bounce back from last weekend's 15-12 defeat at Sheffield Tigers as they prepare for a tough month that could determine their promotion chances.
The Park Lane outfit had looked a good outside bet to finish in the top two after a 10-match winning run propelled them up to fourth in the National League Two North table.
With matches against leaders Macclesfield and third-placed Stourbridge coming up, it was feared their charge could fizzle out following the shock defeat to Sheffield.
But Roberts believes Saturday was just a blip.
And he said: “This month is a big month. There’s a lot to play for and we are playing well.
“Spirits are not dampened by any means. It’s just something that happens.
“It was a tough day out. It’s a dent to our chances of getting into the top two.
“We now need to beat the others and they need to slip up somewhere as well, but anything can happen.”
Saturday’s defeat, played out in atrocious conditions, leaves the Tigers 11 points adrift of Macclesfield, who they play at the weekend.
A depleted Sedgley side were without a number of players, including suspended prop George Hines, Richard Wainwright (concussion), Steve Collins (ear infection) and Matt Lamprey (rib injury), while Ben Black was also unavailable.
“If I was to make excuses for the defeat I would say that we were missing key players,” said Roberts.
“However, the players that came in are good players. The heavy pitch was the real leveller – it was absolutely dreadful. It was difficult to find a blade of grass on it.
“It cut out the chance of playing any real rugby.”
The day could not have started much worse for Sedgley, who fell behind in the fourth minute when Rupert Broadley ran half the length of the pitch to score a try for the hosts.
Roberts added: “We were unfortunate to get a try against us early doors.
“When the conditions are like that there are a lot of spilled balls on both sides. Unfortunately we spewed the ball; they got it and scored a try from it.”
The Tigers hit back with three penalties from Matt Riley to lead 9-5 at half-time.
After the break, Sedgley were dealt a further blow when they lost Jon Bishop to a hamstring injury, but another Riley penalty extended their lead to 12-5.
Back came Sheffield to level the score with a try on the hour from David Bradford, which was converted by Thomas Outram.
With just five minutes of the match remaining a penalty was awarded to Sheffield, which Outram converted to give the hosts victory.
Roberts said: “We should have shut the game out. I don’t know why, but we started playing rugby under our own sticks, got a penalty awarded against us and they finished the game off.
“You have to give them credit for the effort they put in. They really wanted it, perhaps more than us. It just wasn’t to be our day.”
Hines still has one match to serve of the ban he picked up for a red card against Preston, but Roberts expects to have a few of his injured players back for Saturday’s crucial trip to Macclesfield.