Injury-time match-winner almost had to wait to make Greens debut
Head coach Tim Robinson watched Tom Barker earn Scunthorpe RUFC a last-ditch victory on the opening day of the season – and then admitted he'd feared a refereeing error might prevent the replacement three-quarters from making his Greens' debut.
The winger, a summer recruit from North One East outfit Wheatley Hills, produced a blistering display of pace to race past the Mansfield full-back and score a converted try under the posts, a touch down that sealed a 36-29 success in National Three Midlands.
But Robinson revealed how the Yorkshireman almost had to wait for his first involvement at Heslam Park, as match official Matt O'Grady failed to correctly apply new RFU rules regarding rolling substitutions.
"The referee made a right mess of the interchanges," explained Robinson, who also saw Chris Neal, Tom Foster and Howard Bishop score tries to earn Scunthorpe a try bonus point to add to their four for the victory.
"We're meant to have eight and we made two in the first half, but the referee at half-time deemed we'd had four because he was counting a player going off and another coming on as two.
"In the second half, a couple of guys in the front five were blowing a bit, but even though the referee's assessor later dressed him down to tell him he was wrong we only changed one because after that, in the referee's eyes, we'd only have had one more left.
"I'd told Tom Barker the likelihood was that he wasn't going to get on, but then (prop) Al Fagan gave me the nod to say he could go the distance so in the end we made the change.
"I'm quite happy I put him on now, because the way he finished for the try was superb. He's got gas to burn and he showed it."
Barker was one of four rookies to make their first-team debuts on the opening day of the new campaign.
Bishop began at centre while Guy Mychaijluk and Nick Dyson were part of the Scunthorpe pack, in the front and second rows respectively.
All gave a good account of their talent, according to their coach, against the side who finished fifth in the table last season on the back of an injury-time success at Heslam Park on the final day of the campaign.
In a match described as 'a bit of a humdinger' though by Robinson, Barker's try exploits snatched the headlines.
"He's an outsider. He's good friends with Nick Sydall and also went to university with Nick Dyson," said the Greens coach, of the 22-year-old.
"He's been playing at Wheatley Hills in their first team, but he said he hadn't really been getting on that well there so Nick (Syddall) brought him across to a training session.
"I liked him from the off. His attitude and commitment have been superb so we signed him on and the rest is history as they say.
"He wasn't somebody I'd been chasing, he just arrived on our doorstep – but I'm very grateful.
"All the new lads did themselves justice, without a doubt.
"I've said previously that they've had a fantastic pre-season, but until you get into the extremities of league rugby, you don't know how they're going to come out.
"I thought they were excellent.
"If we hadn't have gifted Mansfield three ties, through nothing more than innocuous errors really, we could have been out of sight and won at a canter. Our performance certainly deserved it.
"We got the full five points and the rest of the squad went up to Malton & Norton and won 33-7.
"That was mission accomplished from what our wildest dreams for the first weekend were. It all came to fruition."