Travelling to Sheffield without a few key individuals was always going to be a tough exercise for the Greens, as the South Yorkshire boys are unbeaten on their own patch.
The home side started with great energy, and competed hard at the breakdown, which was a bone of contention throughout the game for Scunthorpe. Some of the Greens early pressure clearance kicks were poorly directed and only gave the ball back to the home side. Sheffield carried strongly into the Scunthorpe half and following multiple phases they had an overlap on the left where Lewis Bowman crossed for the try. The ever reliable boot of Steve Depledge added the extras and the home team had taken a 7 point lead after 10 minutes. They continued to have most of the possession and territory in the first quarter until The Greens eventually put some purposeful play together and when Sheffield were penalised for a high tackle, Paul Cook slotted over a kick from 40 metres out to give Scunthorpe their first points after 25 minutes. Five minutes later and Depledge responded with a penalty for Sheffield for one of many offences at the breakdown. To take the home boys to 10 points to 3 after half an hour.
The home team continued to press and from a line-out close to the Scunthorpe line, they drove over for their second try. Depledge once more added the extras and Sheffield held a commanding 17 points to 3 advantage after 36 minutes. Two minutes later and Tom Hughes, who had only just entered the fray for the injured Dave Garbutt, got yellow carded, for yet another offence at the ruck. So The Greens were relieved when the half-time whistle sounded.
Scunthorpe started the second half with a lot more urgency and managed to gain a penalty which Cook converted after 13 minutes to reduce the margin to 17points to 6. All their earlier efforts were then wasted when sloppy defending led to a break down the right, resulting in a try for James Flint. Depledge once more added the extras and Sheffield had now got a commanding 24 points to 6 lead after 16 minutes of the second half.
Playing some more expansive rugby, The Greens moved the ball across the pitch and back again. Tom Foster orchestrated a move which saw a run around in the centre making room for Will Robinson to go through the gap and sprint in from half-way. Cook’s conversion put Scunthorpe back in the game at 24 points to 13 down after 25 minutes of the second half. Pressure was now building on the home team with Scunthorpe having all the territory. A succession of penalties ensued from set pieces and open play. Sheffield had two men sent to the bin but what the travelling support was looking for was the penalty try, which was not awarded.
With the clock moving into added time Scunthorpe once more drove at the now 13 home players and were successful when Ollie Cole powered over. With the conversion successfully completed, The Greens were now within a try of a great come-back. A big decision when receiving the kick-off, do you go for territory or possession. Scunthorpe put the ball into the home half which Sheffield gained from the subsequent line-out and managed to retain through the fraught final seconds.
Scunthorpe paid the price for a rather lack-lustre first half against a competent outfit and had too much to do during the second period. Another vital area was the break-down where they will have to get in tune with the referee much sooner and it matters not what you think the laws are, it is what he says they are that is important.
Next week The Greens will have to bounce back when they entertain Bournville at Heslam Park in order to maintain a challenge at the top end of the league.