Grove (16) vs. Newbury Blues (8)
Grove win a narrow victory by a score that did not reflect their dominance.
Grove started very strongly with No. 8 Joe Bellinger then flanker Cash Chilvers smashing their way into the Newbury ranks. Within little more than a minute gone Chilvers was over the line for a touchdown and the referee signalled a try. With everyone from Grove thinking they had a 5 point lead the referee then amazingly changed his decision and instead awarded a 5 metre scrum to Newbury. Mystified but undaunted, Grove hammered back into Newbury with scrum half Joe Chilvers, lock Rory Gratwohl, prop and captain James Eckert and flanker Alex Morgan all to the fore.
A neat pass from Joe Chilvers to onrushing centre Guy Nicholl almost resulted in a touchdown but play was stopped just short of the line. Finally Grove were awarded a penalty in front of the posts which Cash Chilvers took quickly and spun wide. Play was stopped for another Grove penalty but a Grove knock-on allowed Newbury to clear their lines temporarily.
Grove stormed back and taking advantage of a clear knock-on by Newbury made for the line although no advantage was given and play was brought back for a 5 metre scrum to Grove. Grove again steamrollered their way over the Newbury line but this time the try attempt was adjudged to be ‘held up’. Newbury were awarded a penalty and again got out of trouble with a long, wind assisted, kick but their relief was short lived because fly half Tom Clipsham brought the ball back towards Newbury at speed and firing the ball to hooker Steve Dixey, who in turn found Nicholl, the flying centre ran clear to the line shooting out a great pass to wing Danny Ferguson who touched down for what had to be an undisputed try. The referee again disagreed however and instead awarded a scrum to Newbury! Newbury won their scrum but then clearly knocked on behind for a Grove player to pick up and dive over but again no advantage was played and so this was disallowed and Newbury were again let off the hook.
Grove then butchered a line out and Newbury took advantage of the strong wind to hammer the ball back into Grove territory for the first time. A second kick took them to within 5 metres of the Grove line and regaining the ball from a poor clearance kick their left wing went over for a try, awarded by the referee although many of the Grove players and supporters claimed the player had lost control of the ball before any touchdown was made! No conversion meant the score was 0 : 5 to Newbury, completely against the run of play.
Now clearly aggrieved, Grove stormed back and Nicholl very quickly shot over for a try following a home side line out. This time the Grove try was not challenged by the referee and with wing Harry Carr having no chance with the conversion against the very strong wind the scores were again even at 5 : 5.
Grove continued to attack relentlessly with Cash Chilvers making good ground and a yellow card was awarded to Newbury’s No. 5 lock. Newbury were however able to kick out of trouble. Now Newbury attacked strongly through their quick backs but the Grove defence was strong and Eckert gathered and made a break supported by Carr to get Grove out of trouble. Cash Chilvers took the ball almost all the way to the Newbury line but was stopped just short. Lock Jack Horrocks picked up and went over the line but his attempt at a touchdown was adjudged to be ‘held up’.
Grove continued with their ceaseless attacking and now full back Huw Lewis got in on the act with a good run. With Grove now camped in the Newbury 22 metre area everyone from Grove was having a go but the Newbury defence was continually in the attackers faces and finally they were able to escape the pressure with a 22 metre drop out.
Still unsatisfied Grove stormed back and following a successful line out, prop Martyn Walsh, with fire in his eyes, made a solo charge at the line and successfully touched down. Again there was no chance of the difficult conversion going over although Carr’s attempt was not far away and Grove were now justifiably in front at 10 : 5.
Newbury’s backs now started to look dangerous but a penalty was awarded to Grove and the No’ 4 lock from Newbury was sin-binned. Despite this Newbury regained the advantage and were awarded a penalty kick which was somewhat luckily successful as it struck the upright but then went over the bar. The half time score thus became 10 : 8 when really Grove should have been out of sight.
At half time Roger Sevier substituted at fly half for Tom Clipsham and Dave Wells came on for Alex Morgan at flank. Grove immediately moved into Newbury territory but with the ball being kicked too strongly given the wind and going dead no home advantage was gained. Then following a clear Newbury knock on the referee awarded the advantage the wrong way and fighting amongst the forwards broke out. This resulted in a Newbury penalty. With the Newbury hooker delaying his put in at the line out Grove were then warned for jumping early! Regardless Newbury then overthrew the line out and Wells gathered at the tail and went off like an express train supported by Sevier but neither could penetrate the Newbury defences.
Grove’s backs were now really moving and passing the ball at speed but Newbury’s defences remained strong and resolute. Despite Gratwohl and Cash Chilvers repeatedly smashing into the Newbury ranks, Newbury knock-on’s were either being ignored or missed and Grove were getting nowhere. Eventually a long cross kick from Sevier for Carr saw the winger gather and almost score but for just putting one foot on the touchline.
Jack Ponting now substituted for Horrocks but the line-out throw was once again delayed by Newbury and this yet again went unpunished. Carr launched the next attack for Grove but was badly, though not maliciously, ‘tip tackled’ by the Newbury No. 5 lock who received a yellow card, converted to red, being his second dismissal of the day. Although confronted with a difficult kick given the blustery wind, Sevier elected to go for the posts and was successful to move the score to 13 : 8.
Ponting now did well to gather a difficult line out ball but it was Newbury who broke out well until the ball was turned over to Grove who tried to attack through Joe Chilvers and Carr. This attack was halted however when staggeringly play was stopped for a forward pass between the two of them even though the ball had very clearly gone backwards in the pass. Following the scrum a massive knock-on by Newbury was completely ignored and with Grove players now objecting vociferously they were marched back 10 metres for dissent and Newbury were awarded a penalty.
Nevertheless Grove regrouped and returned to the Newbury half through great running from Gratwohl, Carr and both Chilvers brothers. A long-range penalty attempt was narrowly missed by Sevier and Newbury came back hard with some good strong running but despite a number of penalty awards couldn’t breach the Grove defence. Grove again pushed back into Newbury territory and Joe Bellinger was now leading the attacks from the base of the scrum.
Finally, a Grove penalty, awarded in front of the posts, was slotted by Sevier and the game ended with the appropriate side winning but with a score that absolutely did not reflect Grove’s dominance throughout the match.