By Claire Cameron
SEDGLEY Tigers were in no mood to offer any goodwill gestures to National League Two North rivals Chester, despite it being charity day at Park Lane on Saturday.
In a first half dominated by the Tigers, coach Geoff Roberts was mesmerised by his team’s emphatic performance against the fifth-placed side.
Roberts, who had been expecting a tough test against opponents sitting directly below them in the table, was stunned as the Tigers raced into a 31-0 lead with just over half an hour played as the visitors struggling to deal with the continuous onslaught.
“I was staggered. I never thought that would happen,” said Roberts. “We were pretty mesmerising in the first half and played some scintillating rugby and they had no answer to it.”
“It was like an onslaught, they just couldn’t get their hands on the ball.
“When they did get the ball they looked useful, it was just that we denied them the ball a lot.”
The Tigers did not have it all their own way, though, with Roberts unhappy with a number of refereeing decisions in the second half as his side stepped down a gear.
He said: “We did take our foot off the gas in the second half. “However, the referee seemed to penalise us in the scrum and we had three tries disallowed for a forward pass and the like.
“To be honest, I couldn’t understand some of his penalty decisions “In some ways it was like he was stopping it (the game) becoming a runaway and it became the referee’s whistle show.
“Substitutes Tahir El Mahdl and Max Ashcroft both got yellow cards in quick succession, so for a time we were playing with 13 men.
“That allowed Chester to get into the game a bit and they got a try in that period. It was all down to numbers really.”
It took the Tigers just three minutes to get on the scoresheet against Chester, with Andy Riley going over for an unconverted try. Two minutes later it was 12-0 to the hosts as Jamie Harrison touched down and Steve Collins added the extras.
Riley completed his hat-trick with tries on 23 and 30 minutes, with Collins converting one, to take the score to 24-0. A try for Callum McShane and another Collins conversion gave the hosts a 31-0 lead. A revitalised Chester pulled a try back through William Nelson just after the break, and he also added the conversion.
On 53 minutes, James Flynn extended Tigers’ lead to 36-7 before substitutes Mahdl and Ashcroft were both sin-binned.
William Bown took advantage of his team’s numerical difference with a try which was again converted by Nelson.
But Chris Wilkinson’s try in the final minute of the game, converted by Collins, gave the Tigers a convincing 43-14 victory.
Victory for the Park Lane outfit, who were wearing a pink kit as they raised £1,000 for breast cancer charity, Genesis, ensured they kept up the pressure on the top three in the division and Roberts remains positive about his side’s hopes for promotion.
“Even the game we slipped up on (against Sheffield Tigers) we had key players out, and it just got too much for us to keep the momentum going. The Tigers travel to mid-table Leicester Lions on Saturday before a big match at home to third-placed Stourbridge on February 1.
Roberts said: We’ve lost hooker Johnny Matthews for the Stourbridge game as he will be playing for England Counties.
“Stourbridge have pulled one of their props out of the England team because of our game, but we wouldn’t do that. “We always believe if a player has been selected for something like that then let him play and we’ll make do.”
Roberts is expecting a tough trip to the lion’s den on Saturday.
He added: “It was a tough game at our place earlier in the season but they were beaten by Sheffield Tigers at the weekend, so who knows.”
Having already beaten Macclesfield and Sedgley in recent weeks, it appears that third from bottom Sheffield Tigers may have a say in the final promotion places.
Roberts said: “You never know. They (Sheffield) could end up doing us some favours.”