After many weeks of only training due to the unseasonal Spring, Scunthorpe’s U10s were competing again at the Driffield festival as defending champions. There were ten teams, split into 2 pools before a series of finals for the Cup, Plate and Bowl. Although the temperature was quite mild, the wild blew strongly all day.
First up in the group stages were Malton in the red and white hoops. Scunthorpe started with a spurt, playing the ball along the line and hassling the Malton players effectively when they had the ball. First score went to Heath-Drury, who scored in the corner after collecting a high pass from Brader. Scunthorpe quickly followed up with another when they took a lineout against the head and passed out for Dawson to finish. Straight from the restart Scunthorpe stole the ball in a maul and progressively worked the ball through several phases before Cooling was able to steamroller the last 5 yds over the line. It was Dawson again who was able to bring the half to a close with a similar short run, step inside and drive over. At the end of the first half the score was 20-0 and Malton were yet to step into the Scunthorpe half. After close play in the first half, things opened up and Scunthorpe were able to put 3 more tries on the board with long runs from half way. It was Heath-Drury that ran 30 yds to score after receiving from Hogg who ripped the ball out of the maul. Taylor scored in the corner after a cross-pitch maisy run and finally it was Taylor that unselfishly offloaded to release Brader for a 15 yd spurt to finish the game. Final score 35-0.
Game 2 was vs Selby who Scunthorpe had visited in the opening game of the season back in October. A few team changes were deployed; Bevan and Adlington on in the forwards with Lambert, Brien, Grab and Gosling D interchanging on the wings and in the centres. It was Adlington who almost scored straight from the start after carving his way through the Selby defence, but was judged to have knocked on just at the point of touching the ball down. Scunthorpe didn’t have to wait long though before getting on the scoresheet with Dawson making it 3 for the day after a well worked move following the forwards pushing strongly to take the scrum against the head. McInnis was the beneficiary of a flowing passing move across the backs. Another steal in the forwards by Cooling at the restart and the ball came to Taylor who finished in the corner. McInnis was again able to use his pace to outstrip the Selby defence and run around the outside to score. Hogg brought the half to a close with a characteristic rip from the maul, 2 steps, roll out of the tackle and dive over try. The second half started with some more swaps; McInnis having a stint as scrum-half, Lambert at fly-half and Brien and Grab on the wings again. Brader continued his penetrating runs and scored after supporting Taylor and receiving the offload. It was Taylor himself who scored next from a ruck, taking the ball at pace and crashing through the Selby defence. In the last play Brader almost crowned the game with a power run through the middle, but was judged to have knocked on. Final score 35-0.
The third game was against local competition Hull Ionians and the Greens were able to take control straight from the kick off, when Hogg ran in a try from his own half. The second came in quick order when Bevan delivered a lovely long lineout throw over the props to scrum half Heath-Drury who jinked the last 10 yards to score. The half concluded when Taylor and McInnis were able to cut swathes through the Ionian defence and convert long runs into scores. The second half again saw pressure from Scunthorpe which Ionians struggled to match. Taylor was able to finish a flowing move, then Cooling showed his strength and drove through Ionians defence for 15 yds to score. The game finished with a couple of lovely tries from the ever-industrious Bevan who was on the shoulder of both Heath-Drury and Cooling to convert and seal the game at a final score of 40-0.
The last pool game would surely be the most testing against Hullensians. They would present new opposition for the Greens and they had won their first 3 games with a strong physical display in the forwards, good rucking and also some very effective ball carrying in the backs. What followed would prove to be the tightest game for some time. Although the Greens were effective in winning a lot of ball and matched Hullensians in the ruck, they were repeatedly getting caught in possession as the ball came out of the ruck, so denying clean ball for the backs. Full marks to the Greens though for continued strong defence and all members of the team making their tackles when required. This closed down the Hullensian game as well and took their very handy backs out of the picture. Scunthorpe did give too many penalties away and in particular at restarts need to pay attention to when the ball is played before rushing up to the opposition. In the event the difference was only small and a single score which was converted by Brader with a powerful and direct run along the touchline. So final score at 5-0. The Greens did not concede and never looked like they would but neither were they able to exploit the possession and turnovers that their hard work achieved. Some good learning points for the team in how to adapt to different styles of play by the opposition.
So the Greens had qualified for the Cup final and were to meet Driffield in a repeat of last year’s final. Driffield had also played strongly in the pool games and won all 4 games with a points tally of 130-10 as opposed to Scunthorpe’s 115-0, so all pretty even on the stats front. Driffield were to have a slight advantage in the first half with the benefit of wind and slope in their favour. They seemed to exploit this and were able to camp out effectively in the Green’s half. This was significantly different to any team during the day as the Greens had played most of their rugby in the opposition half. Scunthorpe seemed to struggle to satisfy the referee at many of the set piece plays, with lineouts having to be retaken and scrums reset. No advantage was being sought but the conditions did make it difficult to put a straight throw in! Although Scunthorpe tackling was robust, Driffield’s rucking and mauling was effective in maintaining possession so they were able to slowly advance territory through successive phases. The most dangerous moment came when Heath-Drury was forced to touch the ball down under heavy pressure over his own try line to force a 5 yd scrum, which Scunthorpe’s forwards were able to win against the head. Thus a very tense first half ended without score. Both sides were clearly tired from the day’s rugby, and whilst the conditions were exacerbating the number of errors, you could feel the determination of both sides to succeed. In a game like this scores were unlikely to come from long, sweeping runs, but tight, close play. It was Heath-Drury who was able to take the Greens into the lead with control of the ball in a driving maul and was able to cleanly ground it. Phew!
With the clock ticking down Scunthorpe seemed to grow in confidence and did not yield to corresponding pressure from Driffield. Hogg was very narrowly denied when he was able to rip from another maul, drive 4 yds before being brought down, just a whisker short of the line. Clearly aggrieved, the Scunthorpe lads were able to win the scrum, which developed into another maul in which Cooling was able to offload to Hogg, who this time was able to reach over the line to score and finish the game. Final score 10-0 and whilst the last two games did not have the Greens in domination they maintained yet another clean sheet for the day; strong defence against strong sides being the differentiator again.
Well done to the whole team who made a contribution during the day and defended their title despite the tricky conditions.