Scunthorpe Rifles (5th team) welcomed our fellow North Lincolnshire neighbours from Barton to Heslam Park for the 5th teams final Lincolnshire Merit League fixture of the season. With Barton sitting one place and three points above the 5th team in the merit league table, the game had a cup final feel about it as if either team had any aspirations of being league champions, this was a game they simply had to win.
As is the norm nowadays the team saw six changes to the one that took to the field away at Dinnington the previous week. However, it was still a strong looking team that lined up ready for the kick off.
The pre match preparation was good and the afternoon was perfect for rugby. The sun was shining and a large crowd had gathered ready to watch this local derby.
The Scunthorpe skipper won the coin toss and elected to play with the bright spring sunshine to their backs in the first half.
Barton came flying out of the traps. They were the first to every breakdown, had numbers in support when they made a break and were dominant at the tackle area. However, their line out was indifferent and surprisingly their scrum spent most of its time either going backwards or having RT steal the ball against the head.
It was therefore no surprise that Barton opened the scoring when following numerous phases of play, their back row player picked up the ball from the base of a ruck and was driven over the try line by his colleagues. The try was converted to give Barton an early 7-0 lead.
Scunthorpe responded with some pressure of their own but their only reward was a penalty attempt which unfortunately fell just short of the posts allowing Barton to clear their lines.
However, some what against the run of play, Scunthorpe hit back with a try of their own. The Barton stand off sliced a clearance kick horribly, which just sent it spiralling into midfield. Nundy caught the ball and ran it back in to the open space. The Scunthorpe centre drew the Barton winger before passing to Rob White
on the wing who shrugged off three would be tacklers to score a fine individual try in the corner. The conversion attempt from the touchline fell just short.
Scunthorpe were now in the ascendancy. The Scunthorpe scrum was as good as it’s been all season, and it was from this solid platform that the Greens scored their second try of the game. RT stole a ball against the head. Forster picked up the ball from number eight and passed to Redhead who attacked the blind side. Quick recycling of the ball saw it spun out to Nundy who saw that the Barton three quarters were short in numbers and executed a miss pass to White on the wing who used his pace and strength to shrug off the winger and score the try in the corner. Again the difficult conversion attempt fell just short.
The home side had by now identified that the way to win this game was to attack the Barton three quarters. This was reaffirmed when full back Lee Fell scored the Greens third try of the game. The Scunthorpe pack rumbled the ball forward. Numerous phases of play by the forwards saw the ball reach the Barton twenty two metre line. Quick ball from Robinson to Redhead saw the number ten execute a miss pass which saw Fell hit the ball at pace. A stunning side step saw all the visitor three quarters flat footed and the Scunthorpe full back ran in under the posts for a great individual try. Redhead added the extras to increase the home sides lead to 17-7.
It got even better for the home side when they scored their fourth try of the half and secured the crucial bonus point when clarke murray
scored one of his trademark try’s. Again the forwards rumbled the ball forwards, with numerous pick and drives, sucking in the Barton pack. The call then went out from Redhead for quick ball which saw him offer a pop pass to Murray who attacked the ball at pace, and, using his superior strength and power, simply brushed aside all would be tacklers to score another try for the three quarters against their opposite men. Redhead made no mistake with the conversion to leave the half time score 24-7 to Scunthorpe.
The half time message was for more of the same from the home side. Defence was good but it would only take one opportunity for Barton to get their tails up and make the second half a tense affair. Substitutions saw Wainer, Brewster and Wood take to the field at the expense of Wainwright, Robinson and Sinclair respectively.
The opening twenty minutes of the second half was a real battle played out amongst the forwards. There was some ferocious hits put in by both sides as each pack looked to gain the upper hand. Scunthorpe had opportunities to score when first Brewster was superbly tap tackled five metres short of the Barton try line and then Wood was eventually bundled into touch following excellent inter play between Wood and Fell. Nay Turner
also used his phenomenal power and strength to drive over the try line but was somehow held up without grounding the ball.
It was therefore against the run of play that Barton scored the opening points of the second half. Following a penalty on half way, Barton kicked deep in to Scunthorpe territory. A catch and drive at the lineout eventually saw the ball shipped out to the three quarters. However, Scunthorpe were deemed to be off side. A quick tap penalty was taken and understandably Scunthorpe players reacted to stop the attacking player. However, the referee deemed that a clear try scoring opportunity had been lost and consequently awarded a penalty try to the visitors. The conversion from in front of the posts was easily added to leave the score 24-14 to the home side.
Barton now had a real spring in their step, as they believed that the game was now there for the taking. However, the game was becoming really scrappy, with numerous off the ball incidents occurring and some naughtiness in the rucks and mauls.
It was from one such incident that Scunthorpe scored their next try of the game. With a disagreement occurring in a ruck on the Barton twenty two, the visitors became distracted. This allowed the ball to be shipped out to Nundy who ran through a gaping chasm of a hole to run in unopposed under the posts. Wood easily added the extras to see the home sides lead increase to 31-14.
This score seemed to deflate the visitors, as with only five minutes of play remaining, there was little chance of Barton getting back in to the game. And worse was to follow when big clarke murray
scored his second try of the game in typical fashion. Barker stole a lineout on the visitors twenty two. The ball was passed out to Murray who ran at the Barton defence, swatting away any one who dared to tackle him, before eventually grounding the ball under the posts for a fine individual try. Wood added the extras and with it the full time whistle blew to leave the Greens victorious by 38 points to 14.