Rugby Union: Selection headache for Tigers as crunch match awaits

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Dan Richmond admits that he faces a selection dilemma ahead of Saturday’s National 2 North game against Otley.

The Sheffield Tigers director of rugby watched his side fall to a 31-7 defeat to title chasing Stourbridge in the mud paths of Stourton Park with Josh Redfearn diving over the Tigers’ only try of the game.

Among those who are thought to have impressed are Dean Scotthorne and scrum half Ryan Holmes in the defeat, but Richmond insists he was left pleased by a number of individual performances in what was tricky conditions.

“It was disappointing not to get anything out of the game, but it was a good opportunity for other players to start last weekend,” Richmond told the Telegraph.

“From that point of view, we were very pleased with some of the individual performances, which were very strong. Both sets of players played in really tough conditions and it was great to expose some of the younger players to the pressure of National League rugby.”

Tigers’ fifteenth defeat of the season leaves Tigers six-points adrift of safety after Hull thrashed Dudley Kingswinford 62-0 heading into this weekend’s home clash with Otley (2:00pm).

Back in October, Tigers were on the end of a 40-16 defeat at Cross Green – a performance that Richmond today still regards as one of his side’s most disappointing performances of the season.

“It is a key game for both sides. Otley will approach it looking at not being sucked into a relegation battle,” Richmond added. “We’re at home and we are completely different side from the last time we faced them which, collectively and individually, was really disappointing.”

Meanwhile, Ben Wade, the Sheffield RUFC director of rugby, says his team ‘fell to pieces’ as he watched his side slump to a heavy defeat to fellow relegation rivals Alnwick.

Sheffield failed to register a single point as they slumped to a 37-0 defeat in the torrential weather conditions in Northumberland as Alnwick, who still occupy the final relegation slot, ran riot in the second half to record 31 unanswered points.

“The conditions were very, very poor, but we very poor ourselves,” Wade told the Telegraph. “We didn’t play bad for the first 20 minutes, but after that, we completely shut off.

“They just kept coming at us and our defence fell to pieces and they scored four quick consecutive tries. It was a bit of shock in all honesty.”

Sheffield will take a break from league action this weekend and will turn their attentions to the Yorkshire Cup as they prepare to face run away North 1 East league leaders Cleckheaton (2:15pm) for a chance to face National League 1 side Wharfdale in the next round.

Wade, who has admitted that he is going to be without the services of Dave Ellis (shoulder) and Jimmy Pearson, has revealed that he may call upon some of the club’s upcoming talent ahead of the trip to Kirklees.

Although he was reluctant to reveal the identities of the players who could be called upon for Saturday’s game, Wade added: “It’s important now that we give some of those players have been impressing in the second team a chance of senior rugby.

“They (the second team) picked up a great draw away at Wharfdale at the weekend so its important that they get their chance this weekend.

“The Yorkshire Cup is still an important competition and we will play the strongest team possible to pay it the respect that it deserves.”