The Greens travelled to Shropshire for the game, where first placed played the second in the league with much more than just bragging rites at stake. Scunthorpe travelled without Jakob Hardy, Tom Hughes and Colin Chapman.
The game kicked off on a good surface but with a strong diagonal wind which favoured The Greens in the first half. Using the elements to keep the home boys in their ‘22’, Scunthorpe gained an early penalty when Newport went off-side at a ruck in front of the own posts. Paul Cook stepped up to give his team the first points on the board after only 3 minutes of play. Scunthorpe continued to ensure that the Shropshire lads had to carry from deep inside their own half with Tom foster putting in some long racking kicks. On a rare visit to the Scunthorpe ‘22’ Newport had their line-out ball stolen and Scunthorpe cleared their lines. Cook kicked another penalty from long range after 20 minutes to extend their lead to 6 points to nil after 20 minutes.
Following a strong attack by the home boys, Ollie Cole was sent to the bin. With Scunthorpe a man down, Newport opted for a scrummage but then lost the ball and Scunthorpe once more got out of jail. As the first period was drawing to an end, The Greens launched several attacks on the home line but were held out by some resolute defence. The teams therefore went into the interval with The Greens holding a slender 6 points to nil advantage.
With the strong breeze having moderated somewhat, Scunthorpe managed to get a foothold into the home ‘22’ and pressure did bring it’s reward when Cook added another penalty when a home player was off-side in mid-field. Cook made the perfect strike with the elements against him to put his side 9 points to nil ahead, 14 minutes into the second period. Disaster then struck as directly from the kick-off, Scunthorpe failed to gather the ball which was then fly-hacked to the home danger man in mid-field and Henry Vaka brushed off two tackles as he powered to the line. Fly-half Maule added the extras and the home team were back in the game at 9 points to 7 down after 16 minutes.
The momentum and now changed to the home team and although they spurned a kicking option to gain territory, they nonetheless made some good gains by their big boys driving through the middle. Having made a couple of line breaks they then had a penalty which Maule converted to give them a 10 points to 9 lead after 22 minutes of the second half.
Scunthorpe once more took play into the home half and maintained possession for long periods but the home defence stood firm, until Sam Morgan made a good mid-field break taking play to within 10 metres of the home line. The recycled ball was quickly fed out to Foster who stepped inside his man to touchdown halfway out to the left of the posts. Cook again made an excellent conversion to put his team back in control at 16 points to 10, after 32 minutes.
Newport threw everything into the final stages and as the referee punished Scunthorpe for being off-side at various rucks, the home boys drove for the line and were held up. They eventually opted, following several phases, to go wide and left winger Haselock squeezed in at the corner. With the clock showing virtually the end of normal time, Maule stepped up for what was a difficult kick to give his side victory, the ball struck the crossbar and re-bounded. There was still time for more late drama as Newport strove for victory and spurned a kick at goal to drive once more for the line only to loose possession and Josh Bird to put the ball out of play which was followed by the final whistle to the delight of the Green players and the travelling support. It was a hard game that was contested in good spirit both on and off the field.
Match Report by LWJ Clayton