GENERAL manager Geoff Roberts praised the battling qualities of his Sedgley Park side as they closed the gap at the top of National Two North with a 26-23 win at leaders Hinckley last Saturday.

It was a second successive victory for the Tigers and a standout one which ended the hosts’ nine-game winning streak on home soil.

And with five points now separating the top four sides, with Sale FC moving to the summit after Hinckley’s defeat, Sedgley are real contenders for top spot come the end of the season.

Roberts told the Bury Times: “It is so tight up there now and that win makes it so close.

“There are just seven points between the top five sides and five between us in fourth and Sale.

“We face Tynedale, who are fifth, this weekend and after that we only have to play Stourbridge out of the current top six.

“That will hopefully see us gain more ground at the top because those other sides will take points off each other in the second half of the season and on paper we should have things a little easier.”

The victory at Hinckley came after a clash that Roberts said had everything from good tries to yellow cards and late drama.

The hosts raced into a 13-0 lead with a try, conversion, penalty and drop goal and Roberts admits he feared the worst for his side.

But they dug in and took control to turn the game on its head.

Tries for Dan Maher and James Lloyd, and a Steve Collins conversion, reduced the arrears to 13-12 at half time and the Tigers were baring their teeth.

They picked up after the interval in the same fashion and another try, for Jamie Harrison, and Collins conversion stretched their lead before the hosts made it 19-16 with a penalty.

Collins then grabbed Sedgley’s fourth try and converted it himself to extend the lead to 26-16 and it remained that way into the final 10 minutes.

Then two yellow cards for the visitors set up a frantic finale and when Hinckley crossed the whitewash with a minute to go, it set up a tense finale.

And it could have ended in disappointment had a touch judge not ruled out what the hosts thought was a winning try right at the very end.

Roberts said: “It had everything. The first 20 minutes was all Hinckley and we looked dead and buried.

“But we came back at them and were superb for the remainder of the half.

“It was the same at the start of the second half and Jamie Harrison scored an unbelievable try for us.

“He picked up a kick in our own 22 and ran down the left wing before cutting across and doing loops around their defenders before ending on the right-hand side and cutting back across again to score under the sticks. It must have been try of the week.

“But Steve Collins was yellow-carded with two minutes to go and they scored when we were down a man.

“We then went down to 13 and they piled on the pressure to cross our line but we held it up and the touch judge ruled no try and the end of the game.

“Our defence was brilliant all game after the slow start and credit to the boys for getting stuck in.

“We need the same again against Tynedale this weekend.”