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Longton 1st XV 12 v 23 Scunthorpe

Longton went down by 23pts. to 12 to in-form Scunthorpe in a game in which they could, and should, have won, in not finishing several clear-cut scoring opportunities.

The hosts welcomed back Scott Rawlings but were without half-backs Eddie Askew and Lee Brogan, being forced to play Grant Hallam at scrum half and Scott Rawlings at fly half.

On a damp and blustery day at Trentham Fields Longton conceded their customary early try after 5mins. when Scunthorpe began a series of forward drives inside the “22”. After being thwarted in ten strong carries they finally managed  to cross the line. The conversion was good for a 7 point lead.

Longton, against wind and slope, took play well into the visitors’ half on 16mins. and began to execute a series of forward drives themselves, with Pete Wilshaw at the forefront, but the away defence stood firm. Then Longton decided to spin the ball wide left where Scott Rawlings long pass found winger, Sam Evans, and he deftly side-stepped his man to scamper over for a try. The conversion missed but Longton were back in the game at 7 – 5pts.

The next 15mins. were evenly contested but then Scunthorpe won a penalty inside the Longton “22” and slotted it over for an easy 3pts. to make it 10 – 5pts. The contest continued to be very evenly fought with both sides probing for an opening. The breakthrough came after 34mins. when the visitors scored a well-worked try as the ball was moved into centrefield to the outside centre who took it at great pace from deep and burst through to touchdown near the posts. The simple conversion made the score a rather flattering 17 – 5pts. on the balance of play.

With 2mins. of injury time played Scunthorpe added to their total with a well-struck penalty from 40m. to make the half-time score 20pts. to 5 and leaving Longton with work to do, albeit with the advantage of wind and slope.

Longton began the second half in determined mood, a half which was to see them dominate possession and territory and to create a number of potential scoring opportunities. With 8mins. gone the home team took play to within a few metres of the away line and for the next 10mins. proceeded to batter away towards the line. The Scunthorpe defence, however, stood firm stopping drive after drive as Longton edged closer and closer to the score which seemed to be eventually inevitable. The visitors still defended superbly though losing a man to a yellow card in the process but eventually managing to clear the danger by holding the ball up and so winning a scrum from which they were able to escape the danger.

As the half proceeded Longton continued to have the better of the exchanges spending a lengthy period in the away “22” but without reward. It wasn’t until the 25th. minute that they finally managed to breach the visitors’ defence when the forwards drove over for a try which Grant Hallam converted to make the score 20 – 12pts.

With time running out Scunthorpe won a penalty 15m. from the Longton line and slotted over the easy kick to give them a 23 -12pts. lead. Then, with the last play of the game Longton prop, Craig Wilson, burst through the centre and headed for the try line. With one defender to beat, and less than 10m. from the line, he had replacement, Ben Shutt, in support but the perfectly timed and delivered pass went to ground thus depriving Longton of what would have been a well-deserved, and very valuable, bonus point. The final whistle went with a final score of 23- 12pts. leaving Longton to rue a golden opportunity to have picked up a life-saving 5 points.

Next week Longton are at home to Bournville in a must-win game, with the prospect of half-backs, Eddie Askew and Lee Brogan, back again and Scott Rawlings back in his more familiar role at inside centre, all the better for today’s run out after a lengthy lay off.

M. Wheat.

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