The Greens entertained Preston Grasshoppers at Heslam Park for the first time since 2002, which was the last time Scunthorpe played at national level 4 with the Lancashire boys winners on that occasion.
The home boys had a more settled look although still missing James Dyson, Guy Mychajluk and Oli Wood and Eddie Newsum and Danny Vannet both making their Heslam Park debuts. With both teams in the lower half of the table it was all to play for on the day.
Scunthorpe started the brighter of the two sides with Vannet very prominent early on. Some good line breaks in mid-field should have resulted in tries but the final pass did not go to hand. Steve Johnson converted a penalty after 12 minutes to put the home boys in the lead. On their first incursion into the home ‘22’ the Hoppers missed a penalty opportunity through Lewis Allen. They did however remain on the offensive and capitalised on a poor option by the Greens to take a quick ‘22’ drop-out which when the ball was lost, the visiting hooker Christian Taylor ran back with power to touchdown his sides first score. Allen added the successful conversion to take his team into the lead after 17 minutes of play.
The Greens continued to put the ball through the hands and following an overlap on the left, Will Robinson chipped the ball over the covering defender only to be obstructed when in the act of gathering for a try. The referee awarded a penalty try and binned the offending Hoppers player. Johnson duly added the extras and Scunthorpe were in the lead by 10 points to 5 after 21 minutes of play. Play continued with defences generally on top until again the Home boys chased down a kick into the visiting 5 metre area and when a score was prevented illegally, another Hoppers play was binned and Johnson converted the resulting penalty. So, after 35 minutes of play The Greens were in front by 13 points to 5. As the first period came to an end, Johnson and Allen exchanged penalties which took the teams into the interval with the score at 16 points to 8 in favour of the home side.
The situation was certainly much better than in their previous two games and gave The Greens some hope of taking the points. This optimism was enhanced by a Johnson penalty after 6 minutes of the second period when Johnson struck another successful penalty. The Hoppers struck back after 9 minutes when Luke Procter drove over from close range and the successful Allan conversion made for a tense final half hour. Johnson missed a penalty 13 minutes into the second half and thereafter followed a period of intense pressure from the visiting pack with a series of 5 metre scrums. To add to the home woes, they lost Aaron Coulthard to the bin whilst conducting some outstanding rad zone defence. All the Preston boys came away with was a penalty in the 24 minute giving a an 19 points to 18 scoreline.
Scunthorpe eventually got a foothold in the visiting ‘22’ and as pressure mounted visiting number 4, Chris Roddy was binned. The home pack then mounted some serious drives with Ash Dibden getting the touchdown. Even though the conversion was missed, the home boys were now leading by 24 points to 18 with 5 minutes remaining.
They were happy to hold on for their second win of the season and move above the Hoppers in the table.
Match Report by LWJClayton