Match Report Pontefract v Scunthorpe 02.03.24

On the second day of spring winter returned to Pontefract’s Moor Lane ground. Two hours of torrential rain had, mercifully, stopped before the Greens kicked off into a cold breeze on a pitch that was heavy going in most parts and waterlogged in some. The home side were the first to get into their stride and were soon on the attack. They moved the ball well from side to side but were held out by a robust Scunthorpe defence until, after ten minutes, a kick out to their right wing by fly half Liam Kay found Josh Milthorpe who scored an unconverted try in the corner. This early ‘purple patch’ for the home team did not last. The visitors gradually got the upper hand and it was no surprise when a series of powerful runs, particularly one tackle breaking surge by Jack Brunt, created a gap for scrum half Joey Mowbray to dart through for Scunthorpe’s first, unconverted try. The heavy pitch made for a scrappy yo yo game. Both stand offs were putting in some effective kicks. After half an hours play, in spite of their line out stuttering, the Greens secured one such ball in the home 22 and the resulting catch and drive saw flanker Alfie Oldridge spin and power his way through three would be tacklers to score his sides second unconverted try. After one phase of play both full backs were injured and took no further part in the game. In spite of more Greens pressure the determined home defence held firm. The heavy rain had returned and the deteriorating playing conditions, and the determined home defence prevented, any further scoring giving a half time score of 5-10

The second half saw continuous heavy rain and both sides did well to produce as much rugby as they.  The weather helped both sides’ defences more than their attacks. Many passing moves that would have been successful on another day ended in chaos and it became quite difficult to distinguish which side the mud covered players belonged to. Some players were visibly suffering from the cold. However, the game was still in the balance and both sides were making every effort to break the deadlock. By the 25th minute of the second half the Scunthorpe’s kicking game had become dominant. Liam Key had gone off injured and Ethan Taylor, with the breeze behind him, was sending high kicks into the half that their back three were struggling to deal with. One such towering punt was spilled by their replacement full back. Following up the speedy Will Robinson got to the ball before the Pontefract defence could recover and, kicking the ball on, won the race to touch it down for his sides third try. Throughout the terrible weather conditions Will had forced himself to keep warm. At every stoppage he exercised and his focus on being the best player he could be, in spite of the conditions, never wavered. Several players were replaced as the half drew to its close, at least one with hypothermia.

Although Scunthorpe were now more than two scores ahead the home side fought on to the final whistle with the 5-15 result in the Greens favour. As the players headed for the warmth of the changing rooms the home side faced certain relegation and the visitors had gained another four points, almost ensuring their survival in Regional North- East 1

On the 16th March Scunthorpe host division leaders York. After four wins this challenge feels exciting rather than daunting.