The Greens made two changes to their line-up from the team that turned out at Sutton Coldfield with Guy Mychajluk and Dave Garbutt replacing the injured Mark Probert and Nick Dyson in the home pack.
The game started with both sides enjoying the dry firm conditions and moving the ball about with great purpose. The visitors were first on the board when home Captain, Tom Foster was rather harshly judged to have prevented release at a ruck. Birmingham’s Kiwi fly-half Mitch Mcgahan duly obliged with a straight forward penalty strike to put his team 3 points to nil up after 6 minutes of play. The home boys had a penalty opportunity after 15 minutes but Steve Johnson’s effort from half-way drifted to the right of the posts.
Scunthorpe eventually seizes the initiative with some enterprising threequarter play putting the visitors on the back foot and when a clearance kick was fielded on halfway the ball was moved wide to the left and with Johnson making a telling break that he finished himself for an excellent try on 17 minutes and converted for a 7 points to 3 advantage . The Greens had now taken the lead and with more possession coming their way started making life difficult for their visitors.
It was only 3 minutes later when the ever busy James Dyson made a mid-field break to find young number 8, Keiran Bournes up in support, to charge down the left wing for another excellent try. The conversion just drifted wide of the posts but The Greens had established a 12 points to 3 lead.
Having most of the possession and territory at this point, Scunthorpe continued to make the running and from a lineout on the visiting ‘22’ Jake Barron made the catch and with his opponents standing off, drove over instead of creating the driving maul. Johnson again failed with a difficult conversion attempt but the home boys now had a 17 points to 3 lead.
Birmingham kept the ball close to their pack and drove the ball into the home ‘22’ with the home side again conceding a soft penalty which McGahan converted to reduce the arears to 17 points to 6 on the half-hour. Then, 3 minutes later, when a big kick downfield would have relieved pressure, the home boys opted to run from their own ‘22’ only for the ball to be held in the ruck and another easy kick for McGahan to convert and put his team within striking Distance at 17 points to 9. The last 10 minutes of the first period failed to bring another score but there was more belief in the visitor’s play which was not reassuring for the home support.
Tim Robinson had said before the game the Birmingham were the most improved side in the second half of the season and his words were proved true when they came out for the second half with a great sense of purpose and a game plan that meant keeping the ball and gaining territory through the boot of McGahan at the pivotal fly-half position.
It took only 5 minutes to set up a catch & drive which, although stumbling along the way, managed to remain secure enough to reach the line. An excellent kick from McGahan brought his team to within a points at 17 to 16 with 35 minutes of the match remaining. The pressure was all from the visiting pack with Scunthorpe unable to break out of their own half. As the second period progressed so another Birmingham score seemed inevitable, only for the home defence to hold out both at scrum time and in mid-field where Ash Dibden was outstanding.
It was only in the final 10 minutes that The Greens found a foothold in the visiting ‘22’ and with their pack now beginning to tire that the possibility appeared for the vital fourth try and essential bonus point. A couple of failed drives and a stoppage in the left hand corner prevented that vital score. Then with the final play, when they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts they ran the ball in an attempt to cross the line. Alas, it was not to be and they were pleased to settled for a 4 point win.
They now travel, next week, for their final away fixture of the season to Bromsgrove and will not lack for travelling support where a win will set up the season’s finale at Heslam Park against league leaders Hinckley who managed a 4 point win at Peterborough Lions with the last kick of the match.
Match Report by LWJClayton