When the half-time whistle sounded and the scoreboard indicated that The Greens were in the lead by 10 points to nil, the travelling support was in optimistic mood. The result at the final whistle left everyone feeling gloomy and thinking of what might have been even though they came away with a bonus point through being within 7 points of their opponents.
Changes from the team that faced Longton the previous week included Steve Johnson at fullback and Jake Barron from the back row. Johnson is suffering from a hamstring strain and Barron has been called up by Nottingham to play against Worcester in the British and Irish cup on Sunday 12th October. Nick Syddall covered in the back row whilst Colin Chapman moved from the wing to fullback.
A sharp shower at kick-off (2.00pm) made for a damp surface and handling difficult. These conditions suited The Greens more than the Home boys who made more handling errors. Scunthorpe were awarded a penalty in front but 37 metres out, Will Harrison was handed the kicking tee in the absence of Steve Johnson but unfortunately his effort was pulled wide after 5 minutes.
Play was mainly confined to mid-field with Scunthorpe having more territorial advantage. It was the Nuns however that had a penalty awarded after 10 minutes but for them Joe Wilson pulled his kick wide. With strong driving play The Greens camped in the home ‘22’ and following another penalty award, Tom Foster, showing great awareness took a quick tap and forced his way over close to the posts. Harrison converted and The Greens were in the lead by 7 points to nil after 16 minutes.
Neither side established any outstanding scoring chances with defences well on top until Nuns were awarded a penalty on 35 minutes but again Wilson fluffed his kick. A minute into added time and Scunthorpe gained an opportunity at the home end and Harrison duly did the necessary for another 3 points to take his team into the interval at 10 points to nil.
Following a quite lengthy half-time break when both the referee and the home side emerged from the changing room after what seemed an awfully long time, the game resumed with the Nuns certainly in a different frame of mind. The handling and passing was a lot more clinical and following several phases Gavin Laycock forced his way to the line and even though it was not clear that he had grounded the ball, the try was awarded. Wilson again failed to add the extras and The Greens remained in front. Play moved to and fro from one end to the other with the Scunthorpe boys having their chances in the opposition red zone but lacked composure at crucial times. A failed drop-goal attempt and a vital penalty conceded at scrum-time added to the frustration.
The Nuns broke up field and once more stretched the Scunthorpe defence. A neat break by scrum-half Thomas allowed him to just squeeze into the despite the cover tackle from Chapman. The kick was again unsuccessful but the scores were level with 12 minutes of normal time left.
The Home team had felt more of the referee’s wrath in the first period but it was the turn of The Greens in this crucial period who failed to satisfy him particularly at the scrummage, where they had been dominant. Replacement tight head prop Paul Sewell with many years of experience, was being accused of driving in and no amount of adjustment would satisfy the referee. A great attacking opportunity was lost through this and also after 32 minutes of play a crucial penalty handed to the opposition for the home boys to take the lead at 13 points to 10 through replacement kicker Ross Cooke.
With their star now in the ascendant, the home side continued to press forward and were awarded another penalty when Dave Garbutt was adjudged to have entered the defensive ruck from the side and also yellow carded within added time. Whilst there was a couple of minutes of anxiety for the home boys as The Greens surged forward desperately, the final whistle came all too soon and they were left to ponder on what might have been.
Match Report by LWJClayton