SEDGLEY Tigers coach Geoff Roberts admits his side were let off the hook after coming up against a "brick wall" at Sheffield Tigers.
The Park Lane men lost a titanic tussle 20-14 but remain third in National Two North and only dropped one point further back in the title race after leaders Caldy and second-placed Sale also slipped up.
Roberts had to juggle his back-line after making the trip to south Yorkshire without Steve Collins and regular full-back Rob Holloway, who normally deputises for Collins at number 10.
"I did not make a big play of it before the game but we knew we were missing quite a few options in the backs, so had to make it more of a forwards battle," said Roberts.
"The plan came off to a certain extent as we went into the break 17-14 up after scoring two tries following driving mauls.
"But we were undone by some great play from their full-back, Pete Swatkins, in the second half.
"We knew how good he could be as he used to play for us. He is a real talisman for them, so quick and illusive, and he's done us a couple of times.
"A penalty 10 minutes from time has then given them a six-point lead, meaning we had to go for the line for victory and we have just come up against a brick wall.
"It was not a case of us playing badly, they just defended ever so well.
"We pummelled their line, laying siege with three or four multi-phased attacks, but they stood firm.
"The great thing for us, though, was that we have come off the pitch to find Caldy have drawn at South Leicester and Sale have lost at Leicester Lions.
"It just goes to prove that things even themselves out after we drew at South Leicester the other week.
"So maybe when our rivals go to Sheffield later in the season they will come up against a brick wall as well."
Johnny Matthews picked up where he left off for Sedgley after running in two more tries in the first half to add to the five he scored the previous weekend in a 76-35 rout of Luctonians.
His first came in the fifth minute, converted by Matt Riley.
Sheffield levelled with a converted try of their own three minutes later, but a second Matthews try and Riley conversion in the 35th minute gave Sedgley a seven-point lead going into the break.
Their advantage was cut to two points four minutes into the second half as Sheffield ran in an unconverted try and the home side added a third try of the day, again unconverted, with 10 minutes remaining.
The hosts quickly followed that up with a penalty to move out of kicking range and Sedgley were unable to breach their rearguard action.
Roberts added: "It was just one of those days for us when things do not go our way.
"We also lost Max Skofic, who picked up a concussion in the first half. He has been a key player for us since signing in the summer and will now be missing for the next two weeks.
"But we do have Steve Collins to come back, as well as Jimmy Lloyd, although Rob Holloway will be missing again as he is still on international duty with Malta."