SEDGLEY Tigers coach Geoff Roberts has challenged his players to haul themselves out of the mire after falling to back-to-back defeats.
The Park Lane outfit were unable to bounce back from a shock 26-5 reverse against Hinkley, following up their first home defeat of the season with a 35-24 loss at Tynedale on Saturday.
Roberts took solace in a much-improved performance at what is a traditionally difficult venue to pick up points, with the result in the balance until a late twist.
"The scoring ebbed and flowed throughout the game and there was never anything in it really," he said.
"It was marked difference from the Hinkley defeat when we just didn't turn up.
"This was much better and we came very close to winning it.
"I think last year we scrambled a 15-13 win at Tynedale and they drew at our place in the reverse fixture this season.
"Again it was a really tight affair, which we looked to have won at the death after going over for a try, but the touch judge got involved and after what was a long deliberation the referee ruled it out.
"I am still not sure why it was disallowed but Tynedale then went up the other end and scored a try of their own.
"That's sport I guess. You never know which way it is going to go. You have your purple patches and your miserable patches.
"We are in a miserable patch right now, but the key thing is not to panic.
"One result can turn things around and who knows, our rivals might lose form. We need to make sure we haul ourselves back in touch with the top two then be ready to pounce if their results dip."
Sedgley have walked a thin line during this campaign, dropping points in two draws before falling to their first defeat at promotion rivals Sale in November.
They went on to draw at Chester, losing further ground on leaders Caldy and second-placed Sale, but remained in touch with the promotion places after ending 2016 with two good wins and kicking off the new year with a resounding victory at Otley.
Roberts admits he was hopeful they would be able to kick on and mount a serious challenge for at least a place in the play-offs, but the troubling sequence of dropped points has seen them fall to fifth place in the table, 23 points behind Caldy and 13 adrift of Sale.
"I remember we dropped points at the same stage last season following a slow start to the new year," added Roberts.
"If I am being honest, I feared we would do the same but kicked off 2017 with a handsome win at Otley.
"Nobody saw the defeats coming, but this club does have form.
"We have often slipped up against lower ranked teams, then turned it on and pulled off an upset against the leaders.
"That could easily happen again, but we can't afford to fall too far back."
After defeats against Tyndale (eighth) and Hinkley (ninth), on Saturday Sedgley entertain seventh-placed South Leicester, who held them to a draw earlier in the season.