Try-happy Henri leads Sheffield Tigers bid for title

Henri Packard has scored 110 points for Tigers this season. Photo: Ian Anderson
Henri Packard has scored 110 points for Tigers this season. Photo: Ian Anderson
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Henri Packard, Sheffield Tigers’ top-try scorer this season, has a dual mission for the rest of the campaign after their seventh consecutive win last weekend.

Packard scored his 22nd try for the club in their away victory over Rossendale - and now he is hoping to continue his impressive scoring streak, and help Tigers secure a promotion spot this term.

The lightning-quick winger is confident that his Dore Moor based side can rack up a hefty score against fifth placed Cleckheaton tomorrow - despite their tricky opponents establishing a reputation as being notoriously difficult to beat on home turf.

Tigers sit third in National Three on 82 points after beating Rossendale 34-10 on Saturday.

But if they continue to win games and pick up bonus points, they could seriously challenge for the title as they are just two points behind second placed Sandal, and seven behind table toppers Sale.

“I’ve been able to hit a purple patch with my try scoring because of the players around me,” 22-year-old Packard said.

“And it’s especially great to be playing with such a talented back line - I really do think we have the best in the league.

“Rossendale were tough, and it was a very difficult pitch to play on.

“But we really picked up our game after going behind and our pace and fitness really showed in the second half.

“I wasn’t sure if it was going to be my day because I had a try ruled out just before half time.

“But when I got my chance out wide in the second half from a good set play I just got my head down and ran.

“Cleckheaton won’t be easy but if we keep this momentum going and play with attacking dominance, then we can get a good win and hopefully secure those much needed bonus points over the last few games.”

Packard has tallied 110 points out of Tigers’ 637 total in his debut season after moving from Derbyshire side Matlock, where he played since the age of six.

Only kicker Tom Outram has scored more points, with 137.

Head coach Thiu Barnard said: “Henri’s pace is incredible.

“It gives us such an advantage when the ball gets out wide to him, because he is unstoppable at full pace.

“He has really slotted into the team well and he’s scored some very important tries for us.

“So I hope he keeps sliding over the line for us in the last vital games of the season.

“In the remaining games we have to pick up as many bonus points as we can, so we need to work as a team to make sure we get ourselves in the right positions for players like Henri to get those crucial tries.”

Elsewhere in the city, Sheffield RUFC are clinging onto the top of the North One East Division after disappointingly losing 18-17 away at second to bottom side Old Crossleyans last Saturday.

It was only the Sheffield’s sides fourth defeat of the season, all of which have been away from home, which leaves them on 81 points after 21 games.

Title rivals Ilkley are biting at the blue and white’s heels - they’re only a point behind after beating Bradford and Bingley 39-22 away on the same weekend.

Captain Jimmy Pearson was devastated after the performance and believes there wasn’t enough desire in the team to beat their struggling opponents.

“We just didn’t want the win enough and for the first time in a very long time our defence let us down,” said the experienced fly-half.

“Because there were lots of holes Crossleyan ran into and we simply weren’t disciplined enough.

“There wasn’t enough creativity from our side and we didn’t play to our strengths, like getting the ball out wide to our speedy backs.

“On the day we just weren’t good enough in any areas of the pitch, and we were punished badly for this.

“The players know that the performance wasn’t there.

“After the game, everyone was devastated and we had a very difficult discussion.

“The players know that the title is still in our hands but we can’t put in another performance like that or Ilkley will take the opportunity and take the title away from us.”

Pearson, a former Sheffield Tigers player, is now desperate for his side to improve their overall performance and maintain their unbeaten home form against 11th-placed Northern tomorrow - or risk throwing the title away.

“I hope this is a kick up the backside, everybody needs to step up and take responsibility and do the jobs that they need to do,” Pearson said.

“We can’t go wandering off doing other people’s roles on the pitch.

“It’s a huge game this weekend and everybody needs to buck up their ideas against Northern and give everything on the field.

“We need to turn our recent form around because we have gone off the boil since Christmas.

“If we don’t make the changes necessary then everyone can kiss goodbye to the league title, and we will only have ourselves to blame if this happens.

“But I believe we have it in us to turn it around, starting tomorrow.”