Scunthorpe 3rds opening fixture of the 2013-14 season was an early start as they travelled on the bus with the 1st XV to play Hinckley Hunters (3rd XV). The new look 3rd XV were this season captained by Jon Brewster and his vice-captain Kieran Spelman. A squad of 19 players boarded the coach as they set off to Leicestershire.
With a stop off at Leicester Forrest services on the way (where the 1st XV did some handling drills in the car park whilst the 3rd XV sat in the sun shine eating their KFC’s), the boys from Heslam Park arrived at Hinckley just after 1 pm, just shy of two hours before kick off.
However, this early arrival allowed the boys to gel as a team, with some cracking banter being shared out amongst the lads.
As kick off time approached, the atmosphere amongst the team was flat. However, a passionate pre kick off speech from Paul Sewell saw the intensity build as the referee blew his whistle to start the match. Having won the toss, the Hinckley skipper chose to play with the slight breeze and sun to their backs in the first half.
It was those conditions that caused the Greens their biggest problem in the opening five minutes as the talented Hinckley scrum half used his boot to keep the visitors pinned down inside their own half.
However, following a huge clearance from Clarke Murray, Scunthorpe were now in the home sides 22. Hinckley secured the ball, however, instead of kicking it clear, they chose to run the ball out of defence. This proved to be an error of judgement as Mark Thomas superbly pinched the ball in a one on one tackle, before using his pace to drive towards the try line and open the scoring.
Clarke Murray, from the touchline, hit the post with his conversion attempt for a 5-0 lead to the Greens.
Hinckley came roaring back at the Greens. Their game plan was very simple. Use their big runners to crash the ball in and then kick deep into Scunthorpe territory. This tactic was an effective one as they kept the Greens pinned down in their own half. However, with Hinckley spinning the ball out wide, Robbie Johnson sprinted from the defensive line to intercept a pass. The Greens winger then used his pace to out sprint the covering defence and score under the posts. Murray made no mistake with the conversion to leave the half time score 12-0 to the visitors.
The half time message was for more of the same. Defence was excellent, as it would need to be to withstand the likely second half onslaught from the Hinckley side.
The second half didn’t start to positively for the visitors. Indecision from the re-start saw the ball knocked and Hinckley were immediately on the front foot. They continued with their game plan, however, the back row of Johns, Fell and Sewell were equal to it and put in some huge hits to either drive the attack backwards or force a turnover.
For ten minutes the Hinckley boys were camped inside the visitors half, without looking like scoring. It was somewhat against the run of play when Scunthorpe scored the next try. Quick ball from the forwards saw fly half Matt Meadows receive the ball. A lovely step and drop of the shoulder saw him create a gap which he ran through at pace, before out pacing the full back to score right of the posts. Clarke Murray easily added the conversion for 19-0 lead.
This score seemed to knock the stuffing out of the home side. Their frustration was compounded when the visitors quickly added their fourth try of the game. Following a mistake from the Hinckley nine which saw the ball go out on the full, the Greens had an attacking position mid way in the Hinckley half. Quick ball off the top of the line out saw the ball passed out to Clarke Murray. The big man hit the game line at pace and the look of fear in the Hinckley defensive line saw them part like the Red Sea as the centre scored right of the posts. Murray then coolly stepped up to convert his own try to increase the visitor’s lead to 26-0.
The game became fractious as the contact area became a real battleground, with Brown, Spelman and Barker putting in some huge hits.
The visitors rang the changes as they gave all players a run out. It was from one such substitution that the Greens scored their fifth and final try. Fantastic pressure from a scrum saw the Hinckley scrum half knock the ball on. Instead of playing to the referees whistle, the Hinckley team stopped playing, waiting for the game to stop. However, Tim Foster hacked the ball downfield, gratefully accepting the referee’s advantage before being tackled. However, excellent support play saw Colin Chapman again kick the ball forward, before calmly collecting the bouncing ball to dive over the try line.
Clarke Murray rounded off the game by slotting the conversion straight through the uprights to take his personal points tally to 13 and leave the final score 33-0 to Scunthorpe.
It’s fair to say that the scoreline flattered the visitors somewhat in what was a very even game. However, the difference between the sides was that the Scunthorpe defence was much stronger, with very few missed tackles, and the visitors hunger to capitalise on the home sides mistakes saw three excellent tries scored.
This was a great start to the season for the 3rd team. A long bus trip and a strong established opposition could have been a tricky season opener. However, encouraging fitness levels, strong tackling and organisation saw the Greens prove to be too strong for Hinckley.
Man of the match honours went to Colin Chapman.