Merit Cup final
By Andrew Fisher
Scunthorpe fail to complete the league and cup double
Scunthorpe 2nds travelled to Sandal on Saturday 27th April to play Sandal 2nds in the Merit Cup final hoping to complete the double of Merit league champions and Cup winners. Scunthorpe had previously played Sandal twice in the league and had been victorious on both occasions, but they knew that they would face a team desperate to win. Scunthorpe were fortunate to be able to field a strong side made up of players who had all played in the league throughout the season. In blustery conditions Scunthorpe kicked off the first half and in the first 10 minutes of the game both teams showed some nerves with knock on’s from both teams, the home supporters noisily relishing every mistake that Scunthorpe made.
Scunthorpe were finding it difficult to mount a sustained attack and Sandal were beginning to apply pressure to the Scunthorpe line and after 18 minutes of play Sandal moved the ball from one side of the other to give their winger a one on one chance to score in the corner, the difficult conversion was missed. Scunthorpe tried to gain field position but after a speculative kick the Sandal Number 7 cut a great line through the Scunthorpe defence to score their second which was converted After 24 minutes of play Scunthorpe were down by 12 points. Scunthorpe worked their way up the pitch, Sandal were awarded a scrum in deep in their half, Scunthorpe hooker Matthew Mason stole the ball and the Scunthorpe pack drove the Sandal pack over the try line to let Number 8 Tim Dunk to dot the ball down. This unsettled the Sandal team and Scunthorpe were showing their resilience and hunger for attack. Scunthorpe again worked their down the field and after a lineout catch and drive David Ward found some space in the defence to score, Jake Goodison converting to bring the game level at 12 each at the end of the first half.
Sandal kicked off the second half and immediately went on the attack and after only 2 minutes their Centre took another great running line and scored, the conversion being successful, Sandal 19 Scunthorpe 12. As expected Scunthorpe kept attacking but the Sandal defence held firm and on at least 2 occasions Scunthorpe took the catch and drive at the line out option rather than taking the 3 penalty points. After Sandal conceded a penalty right in the front of the posts Goodison got his chance and was successful to bring the score to Sandal 19 Scunthorpe 15. Sandal were now beginning to dominate Scunthorpe and scored a break out try after swamping the Scunthorpe defence giving Sandal a 9 point cushion. Scunthorpe made some change with young Jack Brunt entering the fray and after a Scunthorpe scrum deep in their half he picked the ball from the base of the scrum and galloped through the Sandal defence to score, Goodison was unable to convert, the score being Sandal 24 Scunthorpe 20. With time now against Scunthorpe they continued to attack but to Sandal’s relief the final whistle blew to give them the victory and the Merit League cup. Allthough it wasn’t a game of free-flowing rugby it was an absorbing game with momentum shifting from one team to the other.
Scunthorpe RUFC 2nds must now focus on next season with the challenge of playing in the Yorkshire Merit League Premiership.
1 Kane Linklater, 2 Matthew Mason, 3 Clarke Murray, 4 George Mason, 5 David Ward, 6 Lewis Meyer, 7 Simon Fisher, 8 Tim Dunk, 9 Will Harrison, 10 Jake Goodison, 11 Billy Hardy, 12 Jay Johnson, 13 Matthew Field, 14 Mick Dunk, 15 Liam Brunt
Subs – Jack Rowbotham, Jack Brunt, Mick Coult, Josh Sarsfield, Oliver Fielding