For the first game of the new year, the weather was bright and clear and the ground had a slightly soft surface. The Greens fielded a squad that now included Ollie Cole who had recovered from his perforated hear drum.
From the start, it seemed clear that the break had left the home boys feeling a little stale in their play, which was without their usual zest and vigour. The only exception being Nick Dyson who had made some early line-breaks from the ruck area but typically as soon as the ball was recycled it was spilled and possession handed over. It was the visitors who seemed to have the greater sense of purpose and carried the ball with more urgency. Typically, however it was from an opposition handling error that Scunthorpe scored first after 9 minutes of play. Will Robinson hacked on from inside his own half and won the race to the touch-down. Paul Cook was unable to add the extras, so the home boys had a 5 points to nil advantage.
Following more handling mistakes, The Greens eventually established a position inside the Bournville ‘22’ where Dyson once more broke clear from the ruck area and managed to get a pass away to Tom Hughes up in support, for the try. Cook managed to convert this time and Scunthorpe were looking comfortable with a 12 points to nil lead after 21 minutes.
The Chocolate boys managed to put in some concerted attacks and gained a just reward after 32 minutes when hooker Alex Willis managed to cross, half-way out and to the right of the posts. Alex Warner missed the conversion but his team were back in the game at 12 points to 5 down. The big visiting pack were able to gain more time on the ball through the influential leadership of No. 8 Drew Harper and also through the home line-out that had been misfiring. They drew level when scrum-half Warner made a clean break on the home ‘22’ to cross near to the posts. This time Warner added the conversion to put his team level, as the end of the first period approached. Scunthorpe still had some time to pressure the Birmingham boys but once more their line-out timing let them down , so they went into the break on level terms.
A big effort would be needed to gain some authority early in the second half but it was the visitors that gained the more inspiration from the rest period when after only 4 minutes of the second half, they gained a penalty try when the referee ruled that their driving maul had been illegally stopped. With the 7 points being automatically gained, they now had a 19 points to 12 lead. Ben Hyde was yellow carded for the maul stoppage and so The Greens were now also a man down. Scunthorpe desperately needed a “wakeup call” and after eight minutes they gained a penalty from a scrummage near the visiting ‘22’ and this was duly converted by Cook to reduce the arears to 4 points at 19 points to 15. Now that Cole was on the pitch, the set piece was stronger and Scunthorpe won another penalty in a similar position, which Cook again despatched to put the home boys only a point behind at 19 points to 18 after 15 minutes of the second half.
The home boys were now producing the dynamic energy that was expected at the start of the game, however there were still chances going begging when the final pass did not go to hand or the ball was dropped. Good passing and handling finally paid dividends when Paul Cook came into the line from full-back and sprinted to the line for a try. He was unable to improve his try, but the home boys were now ahead by 23 points to 19, twenty seven minutes into the second period. Pressure from the home side continued as the Bournville pack tired and so it was no surprise when The Greens went further ahead through a try from Tom Foster who supported well and held on to the last pass, for the bonus point touchdown. Cook added the extras and with only 5 minutes remaining on the clock, The Greens managed to secure the win.
Next Saturday a tough away fixture at third placed Newport awaits. Tim Robinson will hope for the full squad to travel and also for the Christmas lethargy to have worn off before the long trip into Shropshire.