Still basking in the last minute bonus point win at Sandbach, The Greens travelled to Sutton in expectation rather than hope.
The squad welcomed back Steve Johnson and Oli Wood in the threequarters and Chris Donk in the pack. They were without promising front row player Aaron Coulthard who was ill and therefore not able to travel.
A curate’s egg is the best way of describing this match, which from a Scunthorpe perspective started very well but gradually went into decline for reasons which will become clear.
The Greens kicked off, Sutton gathered and moved the ball into mid-field where the ball carrier was isolated and was penalised for not releasing. Tom Foster put the ball into the corner and the Scunthorpe pack caught the ball from the subsequent line-out and drove over with James Dyson getting being awarded the try. Johnson failed with the conversion attempt into a lively breeze. Five nil after only 2 minutes was a good start and the travelling support was smiling.
Only five minutes later and an initial break by Tom Hughes, was sustained by Gareth Mist and Jake Barron allowing Tom Foster to clear the cover and make the touchdown. Johnson again missed the kick but The Greens were now looking good on 10 points to nil.
The Home team were struggling to get their hands on the ball and put their game plan into place. Scunthorpe again found a place deep in home territory but this time on the left hand touchline. Once more the drive followed the catch and again James Dyson was the man in the right place to score. Again the kick failed but with a 15points to nil scoreline after 13 minutes, the home team and support were in shock.
As is inevitable, Sutton got their game together and were awarded a penalty 35 metres out in front of the posts and Alex White slotted the kick to put his team on the board after 23 minutes. Back came The Greens when the magic ingredient was again the catch and drive but this time from a lot further out and with the home defence sucked in to defend, the ball was whipped out to the right wing where Will Harrison got the bonus point try. Johnson added the extras and Scunthorpe were in the lead by 22 points to 3 after 27 minutes.
The home boys came more and more into the game and The Greens got increasingly on the wrong side of the referee to the extent that Nick Syddall was yellow carded after 30 minutes and Gareth Mist after 38 minutes. Making good use of the numerical advantage, Sutton scored a try through Johnny Raistrick. The conversion failed and the teams went into the break at 22 points to 8 to The Greens.
The Dynamic of play and now changed with the home boys making good use of superior numbers and moving the ball at every opportunity. Nine minutes into the second period and Scunthorpe still one player down, Sutton retained possession in the face of strong Scunthorpe defence and Raistrick was again able to touchdown close to the posts following a strong run. Josh Rolls converted and the home boys were now only one 7 point score away from drawing the match.
As the home attacks increased so the penalty count increased against Scunthorpe initially at the breakdown and then even in the scrums where they had seemed so comfortable. A reason for this was that Guy Mychajluk was resting his shoulder and Syddall went to loosehead which was the first time in many weeks. So all this put Scunthorpe on the back foot and defence was the order of the day.
Sutton continued to work the ball into the Green half but failed to find the play which would give them the vital score. Ash Dibden and Oli Wood were outstanding in the mid-field defence with James Dyson chasing kicks and making tackles like a good open-side flanker should. He was particularly successful in minimising the threat from lively fullback Nathan Burchall.
As the game became more intense so there were a couple of flare-ups which could have been avoided through better communication from the young referee.
Late in the game Scunthorpe sustained injuries to Jake Barron and replacement Simon Fisher, both of which could be long term. Wood was put through by Tom Foster and the centre looked to have scored only for the referee to rule a double movement. There was then some altercation with a home player and Scunthorpe was awarded a penalty from the place of the abortive try and put the ball into touch no doubt looking to go through their drill of earlier in the game which had been so successful. However with both principal lineout jumpers off the field, the ball was lost and Sutton got out of jail.
There was still time for one minor drama when during a period of good defensive work in mid-field, Harrison was adjudged to have made a high tackle and was sent to the bin. So The Greens were again down to 14 men but held out for a bonus point win at 22 points to 15.
The Greens move up a place to 6th in the table overtaking Old Halesonians and only 3 points behind Bromsgrove who travel to Heslam Park on the 11th April.
There is now the small matter of taking on newly crowned champions South Leicester in two weeks time at Heslam Park. With a cup match to be played next week, Tim Robinson will have a tricky decision on who to play and who to rest against Spalding.
Match Report by LWJClayton.