The Greens had a great opportunity to move up the table with victory against midlands rivals Bromsgrove in their final game at Heslam Park of the current campaign.
With the squad still stretched through injury and unavailability, Tim Robinson gave home debuts to young Colts, Keiran Bournes and Matt Field.
After a week of fine warm weather, the teams kicked off in dry but cold and windy conditions. The home boys were first to show and Tom Foster spurned an early kick at goal when he took a quick tap penalty and was only just unable to find a try when his pass to young Field went astray. Grove went straight downfield and were rewarded with a penalty on 4 minutes converted by Jon Critchlow for a 3 points to nil lead. Steve Johnson responded for The Greens in the 16th minute to level the scores, only for Critchlow to strike his second penalty 3 minutes later and maintained a 3 point advantage.
A pattern of play was developing whereby the visitors kept the ball in hand and used their strong runners in mid-field to break the gain line and maintain support, whilst Scunthorpe attempted to move the ball wide and outflank the visiting defence. The home boys also used their scrummage to pressure Bromsgrove at the set piece.
The stalemate was broken when the visitors retained the ball through several phases before the powerful Paul Norris drove over on 39 minutes. This try was converted by Critchlow and then with half-time fast approaching Grove again managed to breakthrough in midfield and the ball was moved to the left where winger Oli Bache touched down. The conversion was missed but with everyone expecting the half-time whistle, play continued with the Scunthorpe kick-off and the visitors ran the ball straight back for another try, this time by the influential Phil Horton. Although the kick was missed, The Greens had conceded 17 points in 5 minutes and were looking at a 23 points to 3 score-line.
The first score of the second period had to be for The Greens if they were to have any opportunity of reversing their fortunes. It was however Bromsgrove that dominated both possession and territory for the first ten minutes and Scunthorpe was pleased to get out of trouble.
For once they managed to control possession and support the ball carrier until an overlap was created on the left wing where Colin Chapman got over in the corner after 12 minutes. The conversion attempt failed but The Greens now had some momentum in their game and following good driving play by the pack, Tom Foster scored from close in, after 20 minutes. Johnson converted with a difficult kick across the wind and take the score-line to 23 points 15. Both teams then had a man in the bin within 5 minutes of each other but disappointingly from the home point of view, the scrum that had been dominant, let them down 5 metres from the visitors line with a man advantage.
The game now was all about gaining possession and retaining it. Scunthorpe however were profligate at the breakdown where the Grove forwards showed better experience in satisfying the referee. Some decisions were proving to be a little eccentric. The Greens were awarded a penalty after 27 minutes and Johnson stepped up to strike the ball to the satisfaction a both touch judges only for the referee to rule that the ball did not dissect the posts. So the score-line remained at 23 points to 15.
It seemed now almost inevitable that Bromsgrove would get the next score, which they duly did after 35 minutes when their powerful pack drove over with the score being credited to Horton once more. Critchlow failed to add the extras but his team was easily able to see out the rest of the game as the home boys attempted to catch-up.
Bromsgrove proved to be the better team on the day with that fateful 5 minute period before the break proving to be pivotal in the game.
Match Report by LWJClayton