In a tense and exciting season opener Scunthorpe avenged a last gasp defeat to the blue & whites in the final game of last season with a sensational winning try of their own right on full time on Saturday to deny Mansfield a hard earned draw.
The visitors started well enough and applied a good deal of pressure to earn themselves an early penalty attempt, which although unsuccessful, put them in a good field position. After just five minutes, with the home side attempting to run out of defence, a pass was intercepted by Ash Wills
who scored under the posts. The conversion by Lee Shaw
gave Mansfield an early 8 nil lead.
The home scrum was completely dominant in the early part of the game and this gave them a very strong platform to work from. This earned them a couple of penalty attempts, one hit the post and the other saw them drive deep into the corner. From this attack Adam Shaw
was adjudged not to have ‘supported the player to the ground’ in a tackle and was duly despatched to the sin bin. From the resultant penalty the home tapped and drove over the Mansfield line for a try. The conversion equalled the score at 7 points each.
As we entered the second quarter it was something of a stalemate with both sides enjoying a fair degree of possession, however uncharacteristic handling errors proved the undoing of some good work. Robust defence from Donaldson, McGregor and Holmes together with Robinson steadfast under the high ball kept the home side at bay. On the half hour mark Adam Shaw
having just returned to the field of play performed a customary dart from the base of a scrum and secured Mansfield’s second try. The conversion just sailed wide.
Just 5 minutes later the home side made the most of a poor kick out of defence and when two defenders went for the same man the home winger scuttled past to bring the score to 12 each. They took the lead for the first time shortly after when Jimmy Hooper made a try saving tackle only to see the ball recycled quickly ending in a score under the posts and the half ended 19-12.
Mansfield started the second half as they did the first exerting a great deal of pressure and appeared to have worked out the home scrum as the blue & whites now dominated this area of the game. Some good driving work from Simmons, Holland and young Hooker Ford saw the ball recycled to Alan Symcox
who powered his way over after 15 minutes. Shaw converted and the scores were equal again.
Although this was Mansfield’s best period they were unable to take further advantage and indeed allowed Scunthorpe to grab a further try of their own with a clever kick through the middle for the home centre to pounce on. Undaunted and with the score at 26-19 the visitors showed great character by continuing to fight back and this time made the pressure count.
The forwards hit ruck after ruck and squeezed the ball back to Alan Symcox
who dived through the maze of bodies to score and secure the fourth try bonus point. Lee Shaw
converted and with 10 minutes to go and the score tied again at 26-26 it was making for an intense finish to the game.
After 34 minutes an indiscretion by the home side’s winger allowed Lee Shaw
a penalty attempt from the touchline. He struck it sweetly and it spliced the posts to give the visitors the lead again, albeit a slender one at 29-26. On another day you could be forgiven for thinking that was that, but this game was far from over as more drama unfolded.
As the home side fought back they forced their own penalty with just three minutes left on the clock bringing the score to a tantalising 29-29 and a score that most spectators watching felt they would have been happy with. To their credit Scunthorpe gained the ball from the restart and pretty much kept hold of it. Manful defence all over the ball park kept them at bay for a full seven minutes until finally the pressure told and the visitors found themselves short of defenders out wide. The home winger took advantage of tired legs in front of him to score under the posts to green and white delight. This was converted and the final whistle sounded ending a thrilling and entertaining game.
Coach Steve Shaw
understandably had mixed views on the game as he commented, “There was a great deal of endeavour and some really good work but we know what we have to do in defence and we have to make more of try scoring chances”. With a seven point losing margin and by scoring four tries Mansfield secured two valuable bonus points. But they know the new boys Sandbach who visit Eakring road this weekend, enjoyed their first win in this league by defeating Derby 35-5 on Saturday, so the challenge will be no less intense this weekend.