Unbeaten Old Hales arrived at Heslam Park with several changes to their squad and faced a home side very buoyant following 3 successive victories.
The Greens once more moved Steve Johnson into the centre following an injury to Oli Wood and so Colin Chapman came off the bench to cover the fullback position.
Play was end to end with neither side being able to make a decisive break through, until in the 14th minute when an attack by the visitors down the right hand side seemed to falter with the ball going to ground and bouncing about amongst the players only to be recovered by centre Carl Robinson who went over in the left hand corner. Chris Hooper missed the conversion but it was first strike to Old Hales and a 5 points to nil lead.
Scunthorpe kept threatening and managed to retain a territorial advantage, forcing their opponents to attack from deep. Orchestrator, Hooper was prepared to take the odd gamble but when things came unstuck, the home boys won a penalty and Steve Johnson did the necessary to reduce the margin to 5 points to 3 after 22 minutes of play.
Scunthorpe retained the momentum with continued attacks and on 27 minutes James Dyson broke through the visiting defence to off-load to the supporting Tom Hughes who ran in close to the posts. Johnson added the extras for the Greens to take the lead for the first time in the game at 10 points to 5.
Hooper missed an opportunity for Hales after 30 minutes but redeemed himself with an easier attempt 5 minutes later. As half-time approached, things could not be tighter at 10 points to 8 in favour of the home side but a penalty conceded right on the break gave Scunthorpe another 3 points through the boot of Johnson for to take his side into the interval with an advantage of 13 points to 8.
Hales started the second period really fired up having retired to the changing room during the break. They won a penalty after only 4 minutes which Hooper successfully converted and were right back in the game at 13 points to 11.
Defences were mostly very tight but Scunthorpe continued to make the line breaks and from one of these a penalty was conceded and Johnson converted with a good strike 35 metres out and to the left. The score line was now 16 points to 11 after 10 minutes of the second period. The margin was once more reduced through another Hooper penalty with the scoreboard showing a 16 points to 14 lead to the home boys.
A kick deep into Hales territory was ambitiously counter attacked but a good chase by the Dyson brothers, put the visitors in all sorts of trouble and following the tackle by Nick, it was the ever present James who snaffled the loose ball to score. Johnson missed, which for him should have been an easy conversion but made amends after 24 minutes giving The Greens a useful 24 points to 16 lead going into the final quarter of the match.
Hooper was ruled to have missed a penalty strike on the half hour by the referee when the two touch judges were unable to agree and in the last 5 minutes of the match Scunthorpe was awarded a penalty near the halfway line, with Captain Tom Foster and goal kicker Johnson deciding to have a go for the points instead of putting the ball into the corner and seeing the game out in the opposition ‘22’.
The kick fell short which let Hales out of their half and they produced their best rugby of the day with good support work allowing Robinson to go over for his second try of the day. The conversion was unsuccessful and the whistle sounded with The Greens having achieved their 4th win on the trot, this time by 24 points to 19 and the first defeat of the campaign for the visitors.
Both sides were of fairly equal strength in the set pieces so it was all about the threequarter and break-down play and the home boys may justly feel that they had the edge.
Scunthorpe are involved in the Notts, Lincs and Derby cup next week at West Bridgeford, which gives Tim Robinson the opportunity to rest those who are feeling the effects of these early league games and also to look at those squad members who need game time.
Match report courtesy of Mr L Clayton