Saturday 18th February 2012 and finally the weather had settled to enable Scunthorpe 3rd's to have a game of rugby with the weather going from totally unplayable to perfect rugby conditions.
The 3rd team set off, travelling with only 15 players due to numerous selection changes throughout the Scunthorpe sides. The pressure was on the team from the off, with no subs, some key faces missing and the fact Ilkley are unbeaten at home this season. The Green’s welcomed back Phil Neal after several weeks out with a broken thumb, Martyn Ellis after a broken hand, Nay Turner after completing his weight loss programme and handed a debut to young Chris Barker from the 6th team.
There was added pressure to the greens as Ilkley were sitting one position below them in the league table therefore the visitors knew they were going to have their work cut out, however the 15 men to take to the field were more than capable of turning over any team in this division.
All players managed to make good time and arrive in Ilkley at about 1330, allowing them to get changed and then go out for the warm up together which is rare for the Greens outfit on away trips.
From the kick off Ilkley showed they meant business and pressured the greens with some hard running, but the green defence held strong until they were penalised by the ref and a penalty was awarded. Their Number 10 slotting the ball through the post. 3-0.
Not long after the kick off Ilkley managed to get the ball through the hands of their backs to find themselves camped on the Scunthorpe line. The Scunthorpe defence staying strong and not letting anyone past, with some crunching tackles from the Green’s. Somehow the ball was kicked through onto the greens line and the Ilkley flanker finding his way through to drop on the ball, totally missing it and knocking on but the ref awarded the try. The conversion was added taking the score to 10-0.
Ilkley continued to apply the pressure through their useful centre’s but the Green’s midfield in Phil Neal, Rick Lee and Matty Ellis were equal to the task as they read their lines of running to perfection. The back row of Olly Aldridge, Nath Clark and Mick Coult were also on hand at every occasion to pressurise the Ilkley fly half and mop up where needed.
It was the Green’s time now to show Ilkley how to play rugby. With some strong runs from the pack, in particular from the elusive Ben Sass and the fast hands of the backs the Green’s managed to get camped in the Ilkley 22. From a lineout the greens took the ball in and drove over the line to score a well worked forwards try. Micky Coult (the man who can play anywhere on the rugby field-apart from prop) playing Number 8 claiming the 5 pointer. The conversion was missed. 10-5.
Half time was approaching and the greens were running out of time to make an impact in the first half. However, the Scunthorpe forwards were becoming stronger and stronger as the game went on, taking the ball into contact and presenting well to enable Westhead to get it out to the backs. Phase after phase, edging closer to the line the pressure paid and the Green’s were awarded a penalty for hands in the ruck but as the forwards were motoring they decided to take it on. Turner and Mychaijluk in turn made strong runs before the ball was recycled to Westhead. Westhead distributed well as is the norm and the ball went through several pairs of hands before finding skipper Ian Lee who jinked his way past the opposition to go over just to the right of the posts, an awesome team try. Lee converted to give the Green’s a slender 10-12 half time lead despite Ilkley being the stronger side.
After some stern words from Captain Lee the second half kicked off.......
The second half was a typical cliche of the game of two half’s with the Green’s going all out to show Ilkley what they could do. From the off the Green’s were rampant, driving the ball forward at every opportunity. A special mention must go to the pack at this point who smashed Ilkley at every scrum and were a force to be reckoned with in the rucks and mauls.
Unfortunately though, the greens were penalised against the run of play by the ref for another one of his "strange" decisions resulting in the Ilkley fly half slotting over the ball to take the lead once more,13-12.
From the kick off it was the greens who managed to turn the ball over and once the ball was shipped out to the backs Neal was able to bring the likes of Lee, Hale and Ellis into the game, making some strong runs and gaining the yards.
Scunthorpe soon regained the lead after a driving maul started by Turner presented the opportunity for Westhead to crash over for the first of his two tries. The try was converted by Lee to take the score to 13-19.
Not long from the kick off it was the turn of Neal to finish off another well worked team try. The Green’s were starting to play with confidence and after several good phases of play Neal was found in midfield. He dummied his opposing man and galloped over for the 5 points. Lee again converted to extend the lead to 13-26 and the bonus point was secured.
Next to score was Sass, going over the line after one of his usual runs, zig zagging past defenders not only leaving the Ilkley defence unsure which way he going to run but also his own team mates! Again the conversion was successful taking the score to 13-33.
It was clear to see now that the Green’s were going to make the 150 mile round trip worth while by enjoying some champagne rugby, in particular Micky Coult heading the way and winding back the years as he inflicted his skills on the Ilkley side. It was such a passage of play that Coult unselfishly and skilfully offloaded to Westhead to round off the scoring, 13-38.
There was no Man of the match awarded as the win was from a full 15 performance!