Scunthorpe made the journey down to Lichfield this weekend for their 4th league fixture of the campaign. The Greens having lost at home to Hinckley last week were looking to get back into winning ways. Their opponents, Lichfield, had surprised even themselves when they beat a confident Peterborough Lions side, but then lost away on the road at Sandbach, but still put in a good display. So both teams needed a win.
Scunthorpe kicked off on a day made for free flowing rugby, and Lichfield started that way taking the kick off ball cleanly and forging their way up field with some good back play, their winger eventually tackled into touch. The Greens took the lineout ball and immediately put some pressure on the Lichfield backs and made good ground into the Lichfield 22. A penalty for an infringement at the ruck looked to be a dead cert for Steve Johnson to slot over for three points, but Tom Foster had other ideas and took a quick tap to himself and ghosted over the line for the first score, with Johnson adding the conversion, 0-7.
At the first scrummage of the game the Greens put the Lichfield pack under pressure but their capable no.8 picked up and took the ball on, and used his backs to feed out wide ball again, but this was lost in the tackle giving some respite to the Greens, with Johnson putting a long kick down into Lichfield territory.
Scunthorpe then put some excellent play together and were putting pressure on the Lichfield line. From a ruck Lichfield were judged to be offside and Johnson cooly slotted the ball between the posts, 0-10. Lichfield then got themselves on the scoreboard when a kick to the corner following a penalty was spread wide again and the Lichfield winger went over in the corner, and with the conversion missed it was 5-10.
A knock on by Lichfield gave the Greens a scrummage which eventually led to a penalty, which Johnson uncharacteristically missed. He was given another chance a few minutes later and made no mistake, putting the score at 5-13.
Play continued to ebb and flow across the field and from a scrummage on the Scunthorpe 10m line the Greens were penalised. Lichfield put the ball into touch on the 5 metre line and took their line out ball cleanly. From several phases of play took the ball back to the short side and went over for a try in the corner, 10-13, the conversion was charged down by an eagle eyed Greens player who saw the goal kicker move towards the ball and then stop.
The Greens were next on the scoreboard when a ball taken to the blindside was shipped to Vaimoso who stepped inside two Lichfield defenders to score a well taken try, Johnson adding the conversion, 10-20. Lichfield then came back into the game with some lively play and when the ball was chipped over fullback Johnson, he appeared to have it under control, and tried to run out of defence, was tackled, and eventually Lichfield secured the ball and scored a converted try, 17-20. How Lichfield then didn’t score again is unbelievable as 3 players had taken the ball within metres of the Scunthorpe line only for Johnson to put in a last gasp tackle and the ball was knocked on. Lichfield did however get another opportunity to score which they duly took, from a penalty, to put the half time score at 20-20
Scunthorpe were first on the board in the second half from another Johnson penalty, 20-23 and then added to this from some superb handling and continuity down the short side with Tom Foster going over in the corner, Johnson was unable to add the conversion, 20-28. Minutes later again with some great handling movements and player support Steve Johnson who was on his own with two players to beat, put in a superb cross field kick for Nick Sydall to gather and score under the posts, Johnson again converted, 20-35.
Lichfield then put some good phases together and from a sortie into the Scunthorpe half were awarded a penalty, which was duly converted, 23-35
Both sides were playing some expansive rugby with the ball moving freely across the pitch from one team to another. Johnson again found himself clear in the Lichfield 22, but excellent cover play from Lichfield stopped a certain score.
It wasn’t long though before the Greens were on the attack again from just outside the Lichfield 22 clean ball was taken from a lineout and moved to midfield where some great handling saw the ball moving up the short side again, with Jake Barron, showing a great dummy, beating two players and going over for the score, Johnson added the conversion, 23-42.
Straight from the kick off a Lichfield player was yellow carded for explaining to the ref that he’d got it wrong, the Greens kicked the resultant penalty to touch, but were adjudged a forward pass from the following play. At the Lichfield scrum, Scunthorpe powered over the ball, Tom Hughes made a brilliant break, off loaded to Woody Vaimoso, who stepped inside two players, off loaded to Foster to score in the corner. Johnson added the conversion, and the scoreboard read 23-49
With now only minutes to go Lichfield were in no mood just to let the game play out and were looking for their 4th try and a bonus point. Scunthorpe however held them out and the final whistle brought an end to a very entertaining fixture. At 20-20 at half time it could have gone either way, but the Greens found their form to gain the away win and a bonus point.
Match Report by PFBright