The scoreboard clock was showing that the game was well into added time when Tom Foster touched down close to the left upright to bring Scunthorpe to within a point of the home team at 23 points to 24 with the conversion to follow. Steve Johnson completed the formality and the referee blew the final whistle signalling a one point win for The Greens.
This late drama was a long way off when the teams kicked-off at Preston’s Lightfoot Green ground on their new AGP surface which looked in superb condition. The home boys started the game with great urgency going through many phases before winning a penalty when Scunthorpe offended at the breakdown and take the lead after only 1 minute of play. They kept up the high intensity rugby and won another penalty 3 minutes later. Lewis Allen followed his first success with another clean strike to put his team into a 6 points to nil lead after only 4 minutes of play. Scunthorpe eventually got their hands on the ball and worked a position just into the home half when a penalty was awarded and Steve Johnson converted to reduce the arears in the 11th minute. Unfortunately Johnson was unable to repeat his success only 3 minutes later with a slightly more difficult effort and it was the home side that added another penalty through Allen in the 24th minute for a 9 points to 3 lead. This was reduced to only 3 points when Johnson struck a close-range effort two minutes later as The Greens forward power started to take effect.
On the half-hour, The Greens put a penalty into the corner when the home side had a man yellow carded and drove the ball over the line for Ollie Cole to register his first try for Scunthorpe. The conversion was unsuccessful but they had now taken an eleven points to nine lead. Pressure continued and from another catch and drive, James Dyson was able to touchdown as the first half drew to a close. Johnson added the extras to take his side into the interval with an 18 points to 9 advantage.
The Hoppers started the second half with the same urgency as they did the first and this time they had a greater reward when Niall Crossley touched down close in for Allen to convert to make the score-line now only 18 points to 16 in favour of The Greens after only 6 minutes of the second period. The home boys continued to press and now it was their turn to drive the ball over the line for a touchdown by Sam Gale. The conversion was not completed but The Hoppers were now in the lead by 21 points to 18 only 10 minutes into the second half. Scunthorpe struggled to get their game together and it took more than 20 minutes to get into the home ‘22’. They then wasted a few good opportunities through taking wrong options and letting the home boys off the hook. So after the pressure was relieved it was Preston that had another penalty to increase their lead through the boot of Allan to make the score-line 24 points to 18 with only 3 minutes remaining on the clock.
During these frantic last few minutes The home boys had another man binned and then right on time another offence on their ‘22’ resulted in an extra 10 metres being given when a home player kicked the ball away twice, which also lead to a booking and another Scunthorpe penalty now closer to the home line. From this penalty the ball was recycled eventually coming to Tom Foster who initially went left but realising that he had virtually no support turn back inside and spotted the gap through which he glided for the late dramatic winning try.
As the fortunes changed the supporters from teams went through agonies of emotions with eventually the visitors being jubilant and the home fans looking gaunt with disbelief. The Greens must now gird themselves for a difficult the home contest with Leicester Lions at Heslam Park next Saturday.
Match Report by LWJClayton