SEDGLEY Park team manager Geoff Roberts rued some off-target kicking after a first defeat of 2018 at home to Stourbridge saw them lose ground at the top of National Two North.

In a close encounter against fellow high-flyers Stourbridge, the Tigers were missing regular kicker Steve Collins after his hamstring injury picked up prior to the previous week’s triumph at Luctonians.

And it proved a costly miss as Roberts’ men went down 41-34 – their first loss of the year and first on home soil after eight wins in a row this campaign.

It was a game that was neck and neck for much of the 80 minutes, the scores being level on four occasions after the deadlock was broken by the hosts with Danny Maher’s try 10 minutes in.

Maher bagged another couple and Jamie Harrison and Max Scofic also crossed the whitewash.

But only one of those first five tries was converted in Collins’ absence – Matt Riley following up Scofic’s score.

And although a sixth try from Skofic was also converted, Roberts admitted the kicking on the day probably proved the difference between the evenly-matched sides.

He told the Bury Times: “It was level most of the way through and we were drawing four times in the game.

“It was at 34-34 and with nine minutes to go they scored another try and then shut the game down.

“We scored six tries apiece but their more successful kicks edged it, with Steve Collins out for us.

“I felt we just didn’t quite tick on the day in the back line.

“Up front our forwards had the edge and in the scrum.

“But Stourbridge capitalised on every mistake we made.

“It was a fast and open game and to be fair to them they are a good side.

“But it could have gone either way as their staff admitted after the game.

“We still picked up two bonus points and the positive thing is that we have now completed our fixtures against the top six.

“We have had a tough run and while we hoped to get through undefeated, one loss from those big games is not bad.

“We are still in a good position and have to focus on that against Leicester Lions on Saturday.”

This weekend’s game is a rearranged fixture from December and the first meeting with Leicester Lions this campaign.

It is the first of six home games from nine remaining for the Tigers and Roberts hopes that will work to their advantage.

“He added: “We need to resharpen our focus after a rare defeat because Saturday could be tricky.

“The Lions have not had as outstanding a season as last year but have reappointed their old coach and are a lot better than they were.”