Scunthorpe skipper Ian Lee was still trying to fill his squad at the eleventh hour after being left with just 14 players due to illness and late withdrawals. However, the Greens ended up travelling with a strong 18 thanks to the services of Matt Arnold and Robbie Johnson from the fourth and fifth team and the late arrivals of Rick Lee and Clayton.
With a few familiar faces missing from the Scunthorpe squad in Redmile, Turner, Westhead, Hale and Drewry and the fact Ripon first team had no fixture, the Greens knew it was going to be a hard day at the office. However, as in previous weeks the boys in green started like a house on fire in the terrible weather conditions (not perfect weather conditions for playing rugby this week as Nathan Turner likes to quote).
In the opening exchanges the Greens had the upper hand and immediately applied pressure on Ripon. The forwards played ‘up the jumper’ rugby due to the torrential rain and when the ball did come out in the backs Clayton opted to play it safe, using Rick Lee on a crash ball to keep it tight or put the boot into the corners, both of which turning out to be the ideal game plan.
Ripon managed to set up a couple of attacks and it was clear to see that their game plan was to use the pace of their wing men much to their dismay. Whiteley and Wood on the Scunthorpe wings might not be the fastest but both are devastating in defence, as Ripon soon found out.
The first points of the game came after ten minutes through Rick Lee. The pack did the hard work, in particular Mather, Warrilow and Coult making the hard yards in a back row combination capable of tearing any team apart. Deep in the Ripon half the ball eventually came out to Lee wide on the left who crashed through the defensive line to get the scoreboard rolling. Brother Ian stepped up to slot the conversion from the left touch line for a 7-0 lead, despite losing his footing on a pitch rapidly turning into a mud bath.
Any attempt of Ripon hitting back was soon put to bed by a solid Scunthorpe defence, something they are becoming known for this term. Mychaijluk, Wright and Stow were hitting the boys in blue with some punishing tackles allowing the rest of the pack to counter at the breakdown and steal possession.
For the first time in a few weeks the Scunthorpe lineout was working well with Tom Fell’s accuracy at hooker combining well with Stewart ‘leap like a salmon’ Foot’s jumping at two. It was from such a set play that started off the move for the Greens next score. From a lineout on the Ripon 22 Foot gathered and the Greens put the drive on. Mather pealed away from the maul and headed for the try line but was caught short. Fell was on hand to deliver a quick ball to Ian Lee who despite having options out wide, backed himself and split the Ripon centres before diving for the line and using the wet conditions to carry him over. Clayton took over kicking duties on this occasion, adding the extras to extend the lead to 14-0.
From the restart Ripon failed to make the ten metres due to the strong head wind, resulting in a Scunthorpe scrum back on the half way. Ripon were now well and truly under the cosh as the Greens moved into rampant mode. The Greens looked set to mount another attack as Clayton popped the ball to Mychaijluk on the inside but the Scunthorpe power house got a taste of his own medicine as he received a tremendous hit from his opposite number, clattering him to the ground. Mychaijluk sucked up the pain and still managed to present the ball in order for his team mates to maintain possession.
With ten minutes remaining of the first half the Greens got their third try of the afternoon. Once again the forwards gained the hard yards which created an opening for Clayton to finish off a well worked team try, beating two defenders on his way. Ian Lee added the extras to take the score to 21-0.
Arnold, Ellis and Johnson were introduced just before the break as the heavy ground started to take its toll on the players. The fresh legs were used to try and get the fourth try and a bonus point, in particular Ellis hitting some great lines but it wasn’t to be.
Half Time Ripon 0 V 21 Scunthorpe
The second period commenced with Scunthorpe now having the task of defending their lead. The rain was now hammering down in their faces, the pitch resembled a pig sty and to top it off they were faced by a steady slope.
Ripon took full advantage and pegged the Greens in their own 22 where they would stay for much of the half. Some heroic defending by the Greens kept Ripon at bay, they looked to go out wide early on but Chris Whiteley not only put in a splendid tackle on his opposite number but also managed to get to his feet and counter ruck two men to gain possession.
Soon after Ripon came at the Greens again. Man of the match Dan Mather did everything right to prevent Ripon scoring but the referee had a different view and much to the amazement of everyone he awarded a penalty try which was converted, cutting Scunthorpe’s lead to two converted tries.
The Greens were now in a dog fight, when ever they did get in the Ripon half they were bizarrely pulled up, allowing the home side to put them right back where they came from but full credit must go to the players for the way they accepted the decisions and defended their line like their life depended on it…………most sides would have conceded a try a minute at this rate.
The pressure eventually became too much and Ripon got their second try of the afternoon, this time though from some excellent scrummaging, pushing the Greens back over their own line for another 7 pointer, 14-21.
Now the scene was set for a nail biting finish! Going into the final ten minutes Stow broke free with an open field ahead of him, unfortunately due to the amount of defending the Greens had done no one was able to keep up with the marathon man to offer support and the Ripon wingers closed in to end the opportunity which would prove to be Scunthorpe’s last.
Ripon regained possession just inside their own half and their fly half drilled a kick which looked to be aiming for the corner deep in the Greens half until Robbie Johnson came out of nowhere and dived like superman to stop the ball. Although Robbie was adjudged to knock on giving Ripon the feed of the scrum, you could say he prevented a very strong try scoring opportunity.
Into the final three minutes, the Greens reorganised and absorbed the pressure until the final whistle blew much to their relief!
Final Score Ripon 14 V 21 Scunthorpe