29/04/17 Tigers 1st XV 36 v 23 Luctonians
The last reel of The Great Escape!
A 9.15am start on Saturday morning saw two coach loads of players and supporters heading off from Tigers on their way to play Luctonians at Kingsland, near Leominster (Herefordshire), to see Tigers play the last game of what has been a tough season. Everyone knew that Tigers had their own fate firmly in their control. Win and it was National 2 North again next season – lose and we were in the lap of the rugby gods. The fact that the choice was between Tigers and Harrogate seemed to add a little spice to the game following the debacle of the Yorkshire Cup.
On arriving at Luctonians the players had already been making sure they were in the zone on the way down but the reality of getting off the coach to play seemed to add just a little more pressure. It was a day to remember especially for Peter Swatkins, who was making his 150th appearance for the club, and for Will Bennett, Jamie Broadley and Liam Wallace who have been in the squad for every game this season.
A large and noisy group of home team supporters were backing their side but nowhere near as loud as the Tigers contingent. As Tigers kicked off Peter Swatkins got under a high kick and Tigers set up their first attack. A penalty infringement by Luctonians gave Mark Ireland a chance to kick into the corner and with the lineout won they attacked again. The ball was, not for the last time, turned over by Luctonians as Tigers appeared to be snatching at the ball and letting the importance of the game get to them. A succession of penalties, knock-ons and forward passes followed but eventually Tigers made a good break with Jamie Broadley finding Chris Pond outside him and heading over the line to get his second try of the season for the first XV. Ireland converted and made it 0 - 7 to Tigers with 10 minutes gone. Only another 70 to endure! Luctonians responded almost immediately when a penalty allowed them to secure a 5m lineout and then set up the inevitable rolling maul which resulted in an unconverted try for the homesides flanker, 5 - 7 and still all to play for. Aaron Langan was replaced by Lee Monks and Frank Wragg moved into the second-row as Tigers began to pass the ball around to find the gaps in a well drilled Luctonians defence. Wragg and Aidan Leeming were doing a good job in the lineouts and Ireland was putting in some searching kicks to keep the home side on the backfoot. The game, however, was peppered with stoppages and good breaks by Jon Buchanan and Leeming both ended in penalties to allow Luctonians to relieve the pressure. From a lineout on halfway the home side set up a rolling maul which gained ground and sucked in Tigers players. The ball quickly went out and Luctonians crossed the line for a converted try to lead 12 - 7 with 15 minutes of the half left. Tigers were now having to defend as Luctonians seemed to feel they had gained the upper hand. A high kick was well taken by Swatkins who appeared to be tackled in the air. The referee agreed and Ireland, for the second week running, hit the post and the ball ricocheted back into play. Tigers recovered it and attacked only to knock the ball on and concede the scrum. This time it was Luctonians who upset the referee and from in front of the posts Ireland added 3 points to close the gap to 12 - 10. Tigers supporters were shouting their team on but it was Luctonians who were doing the pressing and Tigers defending. Eventually a gap opened up for the Luctonians fullback to enter the line and go over under the posts. As the kicker took a step towards the ball he stopped to settle himself but quick thinking by Monks saw him run out and kick the ball away. The referee rejected Luctonians protests indicating that he moved forward to kick the ball and therefore it was a legitimate to block it. 17 - 10 at half time and Tigers had the chance to regroup and “relax”.
It was Luctonians who came out on the attack and with just a couple of minutes gone they secured a penalty to increase their lead to 20 - 10. This seemed to spur Tigers on as they now began to apply pressure themselves and from a penalty Ireland put the ball into the corner. The lineout saw Nick Bingham heading for the line but he was held up only to find Swatkins available and forcing his way over from a metre out. Ireland converted and it was game on at 20 - 17. Tigers now took control and were exerting a lot of pressure on a tiring Luctonians team. From the restart, Tigers were awarded a penalty which Ireland sent out for a lineout on the Luctonians 22m. Leeming leapt (or was lifted) like a salmon and the ball went to Ryan Holmes who darted through for another quick touchdown and the bonus point try. With the extras added Tigers were now ahead by 20 - 24 and looking good for the win. Luctonians, to their credit, refused to roll over and tried to launch their own counter offensive. With the aid of a penalty they got up to the Tigers 5m line but were rebuffed by solid defence. Finally, they opted for a drop goal from 22m and took the score to 23 - 24 with just 15 minutes left. Tigers now upped the pressure and a good break by the threequarters found the hands of Broadley who, once again, proved unstoppable as he crossed the line in the corner for a try which went unconverted. It meant that the lead was stretched to 6 points at 23 – 29 and the home team needed to score a converted try to win. On the principle that attack is the best defence it was Tigers who applied the pressure only to see yet another penalty go against them. With just 4 minutes left Luctonians attacked but a penalty allowed Tigers to clear their line and, from the resulting lineout on the halfway line the ball went into the hands of Monks who sprinted over for a converted try to make the final score Luctonians 23 Sheffield Tigers 36 and the celebrations began!
It was a long trip but the supporters who had travelled down, and a considerable number who had made their own way, all appreciated the effort the players and coaches have put in over the last 7 games taking 24 points and winning 5 of them (and coming so close at Tynedale). From a personal point of view I feel the players have all stepped up to the mark and played for the pride of Tigers. I would not like to pick out individuals as the forwards, as ever, have done a massive amount of work over the last 2 months which has allowed the backs to fully express themselves. What I will say is congratulations to those younger players who have played in the first XV this season. You are a credit to the spirit of rugby, to Tigers and to your families.
A final word of thanks to the coaches who have stepped in to make the “Great Escape” a reality. Jamie Broadley, Tom Outram, Andy Barnes and last, but by no means least, Robin “Bomber” Hislop.
Scorers: Tries: Broadley (1), Monks (1), Pond (1), Holmes (1), Swatkins (1)
Conversions: Ireland (4)
Penalties: Ireland (1)
Team: Bennett, Coates (Thornton), Bingham (Gelsthorpe), Langan (Monks) , Leeming, Wragg , Sullivan (Townsend), Walker, Holmes (Dunn), Ireland, Pond, Wallace, Buchanan , Broadley, Swatkins
Replacements: Thornton, Gelsthorpe, Monks, Townsend, Dunn
Match Report: Graham Cockshutt
22/04/17 Tigers 1st XV 49 v 22 South Leicester
“A Tiger does not proclaim his Tigritude, he pounces”
On a beautiful spring day, a large crowd had turned up to watch Tigers U11’s, 2nd XV and 1st XV play. Nearly all were cheering for Tigers although the Harrogate U11’s parents might have been supporting South Leicester.
From the start, Tigers showed their intent as they attacked the visitors line and put them under pressure. Within 2 minutes a penalty chance fell to the reliable (yellow and pink!) boot of Mark Ireland and Tigers had their first points on the board, 3 - 0. South Leicester tried to attack from the restart but following a strike against the head Tigers set the backs loose. The ball moved smoothly through the hands and found Jamie Broadley on the wing near the half-way line. As he broke through the tackles it looked a certain try but he was brought down just short of the line but managed to slip the ball to Peter Swatkins who went over in the corner. The kick went wide but Tigers were 8 - 0 to the good. The visitors now put on some sustained pressure but the Tigers defence was solid with Jon Buchanan, Ireland and Liam Wallace putting in some solid tackles. From turnover ball, it found its way to Broadley who set off from his own 22m. As the opposing wing came towards him he chipped the ball and chased it only for the bounce to take it well over his head! Just minutes later he made another powerful run breaking through three tackles to cross the line and score under the posts. Ireland made sure of the kick and Tigers had moved into a 15 - 0 lead. South Leicester finally woke up and, with Sullivan taking an enforced 10minute break, scored their first points with a penalty to make the score 15 - 3. A few minutes later they reduced it by another 7 points as the right wing crossed the line for a converted try to tighten the game up at 15 - 10. Tigers were undaunted and it was the turn of some of our big forwards to make some impressive runs. Nick Bingham, Ed Simmons and Tom Coates were all putting in good work, backed up by the bulldozing runs of Buchanan. The lineout was being masterfully controlled by Aidan Leeming who has improved week by week since his return from injury and was providing good ball for the backs. The next score, however, came from a powerful run by Simmons. He broke through three tackles, shrugging off opponents like they were rag dolls, and from 22m out crossed the line under the posts to give Ireland another easy conversion to make it 22 - 10. South Leicester replied almost immediately with a good threequarters move that found them with a 2 against 1 overlap on the right wing as the full-back came into the line and scored. The kick was good and, as half-time beckoned it was 22 - 17. With the last kick of the half Ireland put another penalty over and Tigers went in with a hard earned, but well deserved, 25 – 17 lead.
Tigers began the second half like a side who now believed they could take the game to the opposition. They attacked from all quarters with Sullivan making a powerful run and winning a penalty which was duly converted 28 - 17. Tigers, through Leeming and Frank Wragg, were dominating the lineouts and the defence was as solid as it has been all season with Buchanan putting in some big hits. From another great lineout take Leeming got the ball to Ryan Holmes who once again unleashed the dogs of war as Ireland moved the ball to Buchanan who stormed towards the line before feeding the ball to Chris Pond who went over for his debut try for the 1st XV and a bonus point as well. Ireland added the extras to take it out to an 18-point lead at 35 - 17. The visitors’ heads were definitely down and you got the impression that this was not what they had been expecting. Another towering clearance by Ireland was gathered by Broadley who laid it off to Wallace only to see him brought down short of the line. Just one minute later it was Swatkins turn to get in on the action. From another midfield take he attacked the opposition putting in a deft chip which he gathered and set off for the line. Three dummies later he was crossing the try line to give Ireland another 2 points and take the score to 42 - 17. Both sides had put in a big effort and, although Tigers kept pressing, the game was played for a long time in the middle of the field. With 70 minutes gone Ireland had the chance for a long-range penalty which struck the outside of the post and bounce back into play. Tigers were quickest to gather it up with Leeming giving the ball to Pond who fed it to Lee Monks who stormed over for a great try cheered on by the exuberant crowd. The conversion made the score 49 - 17 with just a few minutes left. South Leicester were now looking a tired team but made the best of an interception on the halfway line to sprint over for a late consolation try (unconverted) to make the final score 49 - 22.
Another stunning performance by the team with Aidan Leeming coming out as man of the match in his penultimate game for Tigers. The win, and Harrogate losing, moves Tigers out of the relegation zone by 1point and means that a win at Luctonians on Saturday will secure N2N status without us having to rely on Hinckley. The dream lives on.
Scorers: Tries: Broadley (1), Monks (1), Pond (1), Simmons (1), Swatkins (2)
Conversions: Ireland (5)
Penalties: Ireland (3)
Team: Bennett (Bingham), Coates (Thornton), Simmons, Langan (Monks) , Leeming, Wragg , Sullivan, Walker (Townsend), Holmes, Ireland, Pond, Wallace, Buchanan , Broadley, Swatkins (Dunn)
Replacements: Thornton, Bingham, Monks, Townsend, Dunn
Man of the match - Aidan Leeming
Match Report: Graham Cockshutt
15/04/17 Tigers 1st XV home walkover v Otley
Tigers through to the Yorkshire Cup Final after Otley were unable to fulfil this Semi-Final tie due to a lack of front-row forwards after injuries during training on thursday night. In the other Semi-Final, Harrogate beat Hull 25 - 10 so it will be a repeat of last year's Final but not with the same result we hope....
08/04/17 Tigers 1st XV 40 - 41 Tynedale
Tigers made the long trip to Tynedale on Saturday and came away with 2 points. That, however, does no justice to the fact that until the final 30 seconds Tigers were leading 40 -38. Unfortunately, as we've done to others in the past, a last kick penalty gave the home side a 41 - 40 win.
The score was one that reflected the seesaw nature of a game that Tigers had, at one stage, looked to have in their grasp but were eventually pipped at the post by a side who realised that if they deprived Tigers of the ball they couldn't score.
Tigers opened up a 0 - 16 lead after just 20 minutes through 3 Mark Ireland penalties and a converted Peter Swatkins try. Tynedale came back with 2 converted tries to make it 14 - 16. Tigers responded almost immediately with a Liam Wallace try and an Ireland conversion to go in 14 - 23 ahead at half-time. Tynedale came out with a new "starvation" plan in the second half and having got a quick try that was converted got the score back to 21 - 23. The problem the home side faced, of course, is that they also had to try and score which eventually led to Tigers getting some ball and they knew exactly what to do with it . A great run by Lee Monks resulted in a converted try which was followed, just 1 minute later, by a second Wallace try which was again converted by Ireland to give Tigers a 21 - 37 lead with 17 minutes to go. From the restart Tynedale threw everything they had at the Tigers defence and scored 2 converted tries and a penalty in the space of 6 minutes to make it 38 -37 with 9 minutes to go. With just 3 minutes left Ireland slotted over another penalty to restore the lead at 38 - 40 only to see victory snatched away when a penalty was conceeded and with the last kick of the game Tynedale took the points to win by 41 - 40.
With Harrogate taking 5 points at Preston Tigers now need to look at N2S and see who finishes 3rd from bottom and how many points they have. Why? Well the RFU in its wisdom have decided that whichever team finishes 3 from bottom between N2N and N2S and has the least points will be relegated.
This week the team take on Otley at Dore Moor in a Yorkshire Cup Semi Final. It is a rare home cup game for Tigers so get behind the team and shout your support.
Scorers: Tries: Monks (1), Swatkins (1), Wallace (2)
Conversions: Ireland (4)
Penalties: Ireland (4)
Team: Bennett, Thornton (Coates), Bingham (Gelsthorpe), Orton (Monks), Leeming, Wragg (Symcox) , Sullivan, Walker, Holmes (Dunn), Ireland, Searle, Wallace, Buchanan , Broadley, Swatkins
Replacements: Coates, Gelsthorpe, Monks, Symcox, Dunn
01/04/17 Tigers 1st XV 27 - 22 Hinckley
Another Saturday another must win game. With a good crowd watching, a relatively dry pitch and on a winning run Hinckley kicked off with the strengthening wind behind them. Tigers gathered the ball and Mark Ireland immediately cleared it up field for a line-out. A not straight decision resulted in a scrum in which the large Hinckley pack seemed to be relishing. Tigers found themselves moving backwards and the resulting penalty was converted by the visitors fly-half (Wilson) and Tigers were 0 - 3 down after just 3 minutes. From the restart, Tigers put Hinckley on the backfoot and it was Hinckley’s turn to fall foul of the referee. Tigers went for field position and good forward runs by Nick Bingham, Steve Walker and Ben Sullivan looked promising until a turnover allowed the visitors to clear their line. A good take by Aidan Leeming allowed Ryan Holmes to get quick ball through the backs and, after a quick pass from Jon Buchanan, Peter Swatkins went over for his 100th try in Tigers colours. From the touchline and against the wind Ireland added the extras and Tigers moved ahead by 7 - 3. The visitors began to apply their own pressure but a determined Tigers were unflinching in defence. The play was in the middle of the pitch but a good kick resulted in a knock-on with Tigers penalised, not for the last time, in the scrum. The game was well balanced but penalties were being conceded by both teams and eventually an error by Tigers allowed the Hinckley fullback (Smith) to join the line and go over for a try that was converted and gave them a 7 – 10 advantage. It was clear at this stage that, whilst the visitors had the bulk, Tigers had the speed. Both sides had attacking chances but Tigers were now spending a lot of time in the visitors 22. All the pressure proved fruitless and Tigers went in at half-time knowing they should be ahead but with the wind behind them in the second half.
From the restart Tigers applied pressure with Jamie Broadley making a good break and winning a penalty which was converted by Ireland, 10 - 10 and game on. It was now Hinckley’s turn to attack and from a 5m line out they tried the rolling maul. It was difficult to defend given the size of the Hinckley pack and the replacement hooker (Coltman) went over for a converted try to make it 10 - 17. Tigers fought back as we know they can. The visitors’ big boys were now beginning to flag and parity in the scrums gave Tigers more possession to play with. A penalty in the scrum was converted by Ireland and 13 - 17 helped Tigers realise that the game was there for the taking. The home side now launched a number of attacks but a resolute defence kept them out. Eventually the breakthrough came when good line-out ball allowed the ball to move quickly through the backs to find Swatkins in the line and heading for the corner. This time he was caught but had already fed the ball out to his partner in crime, Broadley, who went over in the corner. One again the accuracy of Ireland made it a 7 pointer and Tigers now had a lead of 20 - 17. The roller coaster of a game continued with the crowd roaring on the home side but Hinckley were not ready to roll over. They kicked yet another penalty into the corner to win a 5m line out but they gave it away by not releasing the ball in a tackle. This allowed the home side a chance to clear up to halfway and launch another attack. A well won line-out allowed Buchanan to make yet another powerful run and get the ball away to Swatkins who, from the halfway line danced his way through like Rudolph Nureyev on speed (or was it Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer?). His balletic grace saw him cross the line and the trusty Ireland boot gave Tigers a 27 – 17 lead with 20 minutes to play. The hard working Frank Wragg was replaced by the human bullet known as Lee Monks who, with the wrecking ball that is Buchanan and the indestructible Walker, now showed their defensive and attacking skills in equal measure. Leeming was taking line-out ball and this was allowing Tigers to attack. Hinckley tightened up their defence but were now noticeably slower moving around the pitch. The resourceful Holmes, power man Lee Orton, ball winner Ross Thornton, and the animal known as Nick Bingham were all replaced by Charlie Dunn, Al Symcox, Tom Coates and Junior Gelsthorpe respectively. The tempo did not drop and good defence and attack was on display by both sides. With 1 minute remaining Hinckley won a penalty and cleared it well in to the Tigers half. From the line-out, Tigers knocked-on and the scrum allowed the visitors one last attack. They took the chance and the flyhalf (Wilson) crossed the line to score but he missed what was to be the last kick of the game to make it Tigers 27 – 22 Hinckley.
A great game of rugby to watch and, with other results going our way, we moved to within 1pt of 4th bottom. The dream lives on. Next week it is Tynedale Away but they are beatable and that’s what we need to do. Get on the coach and get up there to cheer them on…MAKE SOME NOISE!!!!
Scorers: Tries: Broadley (1), Swatkins (2)
Conversions: Ireland (3)
Penalties: Ireland (2)
Team: Bennett, Thornton (Coates), Bingham (Gelsthorpe), Orton (Symcox), Leeming, Wragg (Monks) , Sullivan, Walker, Holmes (Dunn), Ireland, Searle, Wallace, Buchanan , Broadley, Swatkins
Replacements: Coates, Gelsthorpe, Monks, Symcox, Dunn
Man of the match - Nick Bingham
Match Report: Graham Cockshutt