23 July 2024

Victory in another bruising encounter tarnished by injury

Scunthorpe 36
Withernsea 46

Withernsea RUFC travelled to Scunthorpe after a few days of rain, which made the pitch heavier than normal in North Lincolnshire.

Withernsea began strongly in spite of having a few players drop out late on. Good forward play from Sam Hartland, his last game before going to play at the campsite on Saturdays, saw him make yards up the pitch as he crashed through three or four defenders. Sam, not known for his passing, then skilfully drew the winger and passed to Billy Clough, who applied the finish like an accomplished winger, even though he has only played a handful of games. Stan Broadbent converted the try, then converted a penalty for the visitors to lead 10-0.

After more good pressure Withernsea went further ahead when the scrum-half jinked from the back of the scrum to score under the posts. Stan converted again to lead Scunthorpe 17-0.

Scunthorpe now woke up and put on some pressure. Following several charges close to the line the home team won a penalty five yards out. Regan Fox got forward quickly and put in a strong tackle, which didn’t look dangerous, but earned him a straight red card for alleged contact with the attacker’s head (TMO would have been very helpful here!). Soon after Scunthorpe scored to make the score 17-7 with the conversion.

Withernsea recovered well from losing a man and pressurised Scunthorpe into giving a penalty away, which Stan duly converted to make it 20 points to 7. Chris Sayers is not normally praised for his analytical thinking, but as captain for the match he made some good decisions, and the two penalties that he opted to put over the posts gave Withernsea breathing space later in the game.

The game was really opening up now, and after lost ball in midfield, Scunthorpe moved the ball out wide and scored in the corner to bring the score to 20 points to 12.

Withernsea continued to play some excellent rugby and Sam Hartland yet again broke through the line. Quick ball from the scrum-half, followed then good hands from the backs, saw James Eldon draw the last man and pass to his brother Lewis, who used his pace to score in the corner. Withernsea 25, Scunthorpe 12. Stan again converted brilliantly, right from the corner of the field, to make it 27-12.

The game now started to get very tasty with Scunthorpe throwing tackles in with abandon. One such incident, that looked dangerous, saw Stan flat-out on the touchline, but thankfully he recovered well. Another piece of recklessness from the home team, in the guise of a no-arm tackle on Tom Biddlecombe, led to a red card for Scunthorpe to even the numbers up.

Scunthorpe were put under the cosh again after a clever kick over the top and pressure on the fullback, who was deemed to be holding the ball on the floor. From the penalty, Ethan Wilson was stopped short of the line, but Sam Hartland followed up, and was impossible to stop from a few yards out (Sam won Withernsea’s Forward of the Match for his heroic performance). Stan converted the try to make it an impressive 34-12 at half-time.

Having been given clear instruction to get the ball into the Scunthorpe half, Withernsea proceeded to pass the ball in their own 22, until a knock on eventually gave Scunthorpe a scrum, from which they made two drives, got over under the post and just about grounded it for a try. With the conversion the score was now 34-19 to the visitors.

From the kick-off Lewis Eldon charged on to the ball and jinked his way past five players, but was unbelievably caught just before the line. Great follow- up work led to the ball going out to Sam, who took a high tackle, but the recycled ball out to Matt Holian, who scored in the corner after only just coming on the pitch, as he was carrying a bad knock to his ribs. Withernsea 39, Scunthorpe 19, Stan having hit the post with the kick.

Scunthorpe were not done yet, and in a game that was resembling a basketball match, with scores every few minutes, the home team came back with a penalty and a try in the corner to narrow the gap to 10 points with 15 minutes to play. It was now getting tense after Withernsea had put themselves in such a good position.

The visitors, however, kept their cool and Lewis made another amazing run (deservedly winning “Back of the Match”). He was tackled, but good recycling saw Sam just short, but he popped to Rob Hird, who scored. Stan kicked the conversion to make it 46-29.

Scunthorpe scored again to bring the score to 46-36. Sadly, the game was cut short by a few minutes as Rob Perkins, who had had a lively game at flanker, suffered a dislocation of his ankle and a broken fibia. Many thanks to the Scunthorpe lads for their well-wishes to

Rob and to their physio, Neal, who did a great job. This was another great team performance, which gave Withernsea their seventh win from seven in the league against a very tough Scunthorpe team. The way this newly put together team has gelled is nothing short of astounding.

The mixture of strength and pace, new and old, young and experienced has created an exciting team to watch. The bonus is that the lads get on as well off the pitch as they do on it.

There is a blank week next Saturday, which is probably a good thing to give the Withernsea lads chance to heal from a few injuries. Withernsea return to action on February 24 – away at Driffield.

Bob Wardman