By Claire Cameron
A DEFIANT Geoff Roberts refused to rule his Sedgley Tigers team out of the promotion race, despite the National League Two side being mauled by mid-table Leicester Lions.
The Tigers, who remain in fourth place in the league, are now 14 points behind leaders Darlington Mowden Park and 11 points adrift of third-placed Stourbridge – who they host on Saturday.
“Promotion is going to be tricky as we are relying heavily on other results,” said the Tigers’ coach.
“Maybe we are coming down to being king makers instead, but it’s not over yet.”
The Park Lane side, who were on a winning run of nine games before the turn of the year, have lost two out of their four January fixtures.
“It was a horrible day, played in horrible conditions, on a very heavy pitch,” said Roberts.
“You can’t come up with excuses, it was a bad day at the office for us, and one of those days where we did not get off the bus.
“We were under the cosh straight away. We were out-muscled in the scrum and that was reflected all over the field.”
The below-par Tigers struggled to deal with the adverse weather conditions with rain, thunder and lightning affecting their game.
“For safety reasons the game was stopped for 20 minutes,” said Roberts.
“When we came back the pitch was horrendous. There was a lot of water about and we weren’t really able to use our back line because of the conditions, and it all kept breaking down.
“In the end we were well beaten by a team who dealt with the conditions much better than us.
“They were really up for it. I didn’t really feel that we were up for it somehow.”
The Lions took just five minutes to open the scoring with Daniel Campbell going over for a try, which was converted by Jonathan Boden.
The Tigers hit back with a Steve Collins penalty in the 12th minute, before Campbell scored an unconverted try to give the hosts a 12-3 lead at half time.
The Lions extended their lead to 27-3 after the break with tries from Thomas Morris and John Murdoch, with Boden converting one and scoring a penalty.
Morris completed the try-scoring for the hosts just after the hour mark, with Boden adding the extras.
With 10 minutes remaining Matt Lamprey went over for a consolation try for the Tigers, which was converted by Collins.
The Tigers, who must now beat Stourbridge on Saturday to have any realistic chance of promotion, will be without Johnny Matthews, who is on England Counties duty, and club captain Juan Crous is also a doubt after sustaining a shoulder injury.
“We’ve obviously got to be right up to the mark next week and I’m sure the boys will need no switching on,” said Roberts.
The Tigers coach will be hoping for a change in the weather as well as his side’s fortunes ahead of the showdown with Stourbridge.
He said: “Even training is becoming a problem in these weather conditions.
“We hired an all-weather pitch last week but the timings don’t fit with normal training times. Some of the lads can’t make the early 6.30pm to 7.30pm training session and the late time (9pm-10pm) is not practical when you have players travelling from Liverpool and Stoke.”