SEB Reynolds hailed his side’s defensive display as Rams secured an outstanding 41-20 National One victory at previously unbeaten Sedgley Park.
A Warren Seals penalty gave the hosts the lead before Fraser Honey added the extras to a try from debutant Ed Hoadley, Seals knocking over another three-pointer for 7-6.
However, Niall Kidd’s try, added to by Honey, and a penalty from the latter, gave the visitors an 11-point half-time lead.
This was shredded within two minutes of the start of the second half, Tigers’ long-serving skipper Matt Riley getting over before Seals landed the conversion.
Sedgley Park v Rams RFC Pictures: Tim Pitfield
It was Rams, though, who took control, their phenomenal defence and superb forwards’ effort reeling off 19 unanswered points with Max Hayman, Ben Atkins and Dan Swain all going over from close range as Honey added two more conversions.
Danny Maher crossed at the back of a maul for Park late on, Seals again on target, but Rams had the final word as a magnificent Atkins turnover, breakaway and then long-field kick set-up Henry Bird for the final score.
And it was that effort, some four minutes into injury-time, which reflected a brilliant away performance.
“The defence laid the platform for a very solid performance against a very, very good side,” said Reynolds.
“When we looked at them in the week you could see they were different to what we’ve faced before, they’ve done well this year, organised, cohesive.
“We knew we had to put pressure on their attack to try and take some elements away and with Danny (Batty, defence coach) heading it up and the boys implementing it, we did it well.
“We’ll be able to review some positive defensive sets and the intent which was there – we had a real focus on it during the week and to come here against a side which had won 24 home matches and do it was pleasing.”
Tigers had last been beaten on their own patch way back in November, 2021, and Reynolds was quick to praise both his own troops and the opposition.
He continued: “It was a unique challenge and we were excited to come here, but our lads are very good at rising to those and we did a good job.
“Sedgley Tigers are a fantastic club and the people here are lovely, they were so welcoming but they play hard rugby.”
While the defensive effort was key, Hoadley’s opener was also an eye-catcher with some beautiful handling and a trademark Axel Kalling-Smith break helping continue the remarkable BBC Radio Berkshire as the debutant try-scorer made it nine out of 11 to touchdown having appeared on the Friday Night Weekend Kick-Off show.
Reynolds continued: “Everyone will want to go on the show! There was some good attacking stuff, but we were looking really towards getting control of the game early on and then breaking out at the points where we could.
“We didn’t want to make it too loose and invite them into it with their off-loading game, so there was some good stuff.
“The pick-and-goes were good, it was nice to get tries from close range and we had good momentum with front foot ball from the maul, every time we got near their line, we looked threatening, so that’s a positive.”
Having come from behind against both Birmingham Moseley and Chinnor in their opening two victories, Rams led for 69 minutes at Park Lane in their most impressive performance so far – the cherry on the cake Bird’s last-gasp score, but the DoR said: “I feel like they’ve all been 80-minute performances in no opposition is ever going to roll over for you – all three sides have been very good and put us on the back foot, so then you have to comeback.
“With 40 seconds to go we could have nudged the ball out and got on the coach a little bit earlier, but we wanted to try and play a bit and actually got the final score to take us past 40 which flatters us a bit as Sedgley were threatening us again.”
Rams host Rosslyn Park on Saturday (3pm).