Although the Leicestershire club are bottom of the table at present, they also ironically happen to be the form team, having won their last 5 games. The Greens captain Tom Foster and hooker Gareth Mist were declared fit to play, having overcome injuries sustained at Sandbach. The team did however have to start without Will Robinson, who’s travel difficulties meant that he only arrived 20 minutes into the game.
The game kicked off with a strong biting crosswind which made both playing and spectating a difficult exercise. The home boys started with great confidence and used their big pack to good effect by driving play into the Scunthorpe half. Following several drives close-in, the ball was spun out wide to the right for the home winger to display agility and strength to touchdown. The conversion was unsuccessful but after only 5 minutes, the home boys were off to a flying start. Scunthorpe did have an opportunity to get onto the board when they won a penalty after 11 minutes but Paul Cook over compensated for the wind and the ball sailed pass the upright. The set-piece was proving a difficult area as the home side were determined to gain superiority by any means. The referee at first agreed with their style and penalised The Greens. The ball was put into the left-hand corner and the home pack drove over. When the extras were added, Syston were ahead by 12 points to nil after only 15 minutes of play. They then had to contend with the yellow carding of Nick Dyson for not rolling away at the breakdown on the Scunthorpe ‘22’. This seemed to be a first offence and in no way prevented an opposition score. The misery continued as the home boys once more found space on the right for a second score in the corner. So, after only 20 minutes The Greens were down by 17 points to nil and had yet to make any impact on the game.
Gradually they managed to get their hands on more possession and as the control of the set-piece was adjusted, they put pressure on the home team. Following a series of drives close to the line and the carding of a home player for collapsing the maul, Oli Cole managed to cross for a try. Cook added the extras and Scunthorpe were now down by 17 points to 7 after 27 minutes of the first half. They continued to have the better of the refereeing decisions and thus the territory and following a series of charges for the line, the ball was moved wide to the left for Will Robinson to cross. Cook failed to add the extras but as the game moved towards half-time, the score remained 17 points to 12 in favour of the home team.
With the game finely balanced, the all important first score would prove to be decisive and it was the home team that was awarded a penalty at the breakdown when The Greens felt that they had executed a turnover. The kick was good and so after 7 minutes the scoreboard read 20 points to 12 in favour of the home boys. After 10 minutes, the home boys broke out of their own half with space down the left flank and an overlap provided the try. Although the conversion was missed, Syston now had a lead of 25 points to 12 after 10 minutes. Scunthorpe once more put themselves back into contention as they increased the pressure with the big home pack now seeming to tire. Good handling and passing through the three-quarters led to another try by Robinson and with the successful conversion, the scoreboard now read 25 points to 19, half-way through the second period.
As Syston took play into the Greens half and following a period of good defensive work, Scunthorpe had a penalty awarded against them, in front of the posts, which was converted for a 28 points to 19 lead after 25 minutes. Scunthorpe stepped up the pace as the home pack once more seemed to tire and following a series of drives from close in, two home players were sent to the bin. With the numerical advantage, Tom Foster managed to squeeze over. The kick was missed but the lead was now reduced to 28 points to 24 as the final minutes of the game approached.
There was late drama as one of the home players who had been carded was waved back onto the pitch and as he was a front row player, the claim was that he was injured and unable to continue, so the game went to uncontested scrummages as they already had a front row injury. Scunthorpe then lost Ben Hyde when as he was carrying the ball out of his own ‘22’, he damaged his right ankle which is feared broken. As he was not able to be moved, play was transferred to an adjoining pitch for the last knockings with Scunthorpe unable to gain the final vital try.
Fortunately, rivals Newport also went down at Bridgnorth which leaves The Greens still on top of the table, having gained two points from the game at Syston. Luctonians, now in second place are the one’s to watch but Scunthorpe’s title hopes are still in their own hands with 4 games left to play. There is a break next Saturday before they entertain Sheffield on the 23rd March at Heslam Park.