The game was just moving into injury time when Nick Dyson was driven over the opposition line under the posts, and with Steve Johnson kicking the conversion which would eventually win the game, there was a palpable feeling of relief around Heslam Park.
Following 11 straight league victories, The Greens faced the side that was the last to defeat them way back on the 21st November 2015. There were two changes to the side that beat Sandbach the previous week with Mick Dunk junior replacing Sam Morgan, now in New Zealand and Dave Garbutt covering for the absent Si Weller.
The game started on a saturated pitch with the Home boys starting as if they were on a bone dry surface and attempted to move the around their threequarters. This resulted in missed and dropped passes with continuous turnover ball. The Leicestershire visitors were much more pragmatic and played a limited kick and chase game which brought a greater reward and went ahead after 13 minutes when Adam Nunney kicking a successful penalty.
Syston continued playing a limited attacking game but accompanied this with a strong and determined defence. They also applied a lot of breakdown pressure never allowing the home boys quick ball. Scunthorpe were not able to satisfy the referee at the breakdown and again conceded a penalty on the half-hour but this time Nunney sliced his attempt.
The Greens were still not able to patiently build an attack to lay siege to the visitor’s line and so went into the interval 3 points to nil down.
Scunthorpe adopted a different style after the break and kept the ball a lot tighter. Playing through their pack. More territory was gained but they were still not able to make the final break through. They also suffered another penalty award against them after 6 minutes of the second period and this time Nunney converted for a 6 points to nil lead.
A clearance kick broke kindly for Oli Wood on the half-way line and he made ground to within 5 metres of the opposition try line before off-loading to the supporting Jake Barron who completed the touchdown. Johnson was unable to convert from wide out but the home boys were at last in the game albeit 6 points to 5 down.
Frustration was gradually growing as some promising attacking situations were missed either through the last pass going astray or a refereeing call going against them. Syston missed another penalty attempt after 23 minutes before two more promising situations were ruled against by the referee. One when the ball was held up over the line, which was disputed and later when following a kick ahead the visiting fullback dropped on the ball and made no attempt to rise, the following attackers then attempted to gain possession only to be penalised. Following verbal comment, Ash Dibden was sent to the bin on the half-hour.
In slight disarray, the home boys were again penalised on their own ‘22’ and Syston took a quick tap and moved the ball across to left winger Sam Reid who touched down in the corner. With the conversion missed, The Visitors were in a comfortable position of an eleven points to five lead after 74 minutes of play.
Scunthorpe continued to press even though down a man and when Syston infringed at the breakdown they had a man binned. As injury time approached the home boys finally breached the visitor’s defence for the converted try giving Scunthorpe the lead for the first time in the game and 3 minutes to hang on to it. At 12 points to 11 they managed to stretch their unbeaten record to 12 league games but were mighty relieved to do so.
Syston proved to be difficult opponents who played the conditions well and The Greens will learn that open rugby has its moments in the right conditions.
Saturday brings a break from league rugby where Scunthorpe sit proudly on top of the table courtesy of Hinckley having their game at Old Halesonians called off. It will be a cup date for the boys when they take on Newark in a Notts, Lincs & Derby semi-final at Heslam Park.
Match Report by LWJClayton