Devizes (17) vs. Grove (27)
Grove 1st's end their pre-league season 'friendlies' on a high!
Grove RFC 1st team concluded their successful series of pre-league ‘friendlies’ with a good win at Devizes despite missing some of their regular 1st team players. The home side who, like Grove, finished in their league’s fourth place last season put up a very strong fight, as was to be expected. Unlike the previous three friendlies this game was played as a full on match of two 40 minute halves with just the regular number of replacements rather than a four quarters match with unlimited replacements. As a result this was a genuine contest with both sides playing for the win.
Devizes took a 3 : 0 lead with a penalty kick from their fly half despite the early pressure and territorial advantage coming from Grove. Grove hit back after some 35 minutes with a fine try from No’ 8 Joe Bellinger who collected from the base of the scrum and dived over from short range to take the score to 3 : 5. The match continued to be fiercely contested but it was Grove who extended their lead when left wing Guy Nicholl broke free and scored following a strong sprint to the line. The try also resulted in a yellow card for a Devizes player who fouled Nicholl as he touched down. With Dave Maryon slotting the conversion the score moved to 3 : 12 in Grove’s favour. The side's numbers were evened up when Bellinger was then sin binned for an alledgedly dangerous tackle. This was followed by a strong Devizes forwards drive resulting in their converted try which took the half time score to 10 : 12. Towards the end of the first half Grove’s recent history of serious injuries seemingly continued when hooker Steve Dixey was stretched off and taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg. Dixey being replaced by Jimmy Wallbridge.
Grove were the first to score in the second half when following a penalty award a super slick passing movement involving Bellinger, centre Jamie Burns, flanker Ben Nicholl, Burns again and finally Harry Carr allowed the flying right wing to touch down. With the conversion missed the score moved to 10 : 17. Then following strong runs from both full back Nick Sevier and Guy Nicholl the ball was slipped back inside for Jamie Burns to touch down between the posts. With the conversion kick rebounding off the upright the score moved to 10 : 22. Scrum half Johnny Symonds was now replaced by Huw Lewis and Jack Ponting came on for lock Ollie Huyton and almost immediately Grove went further ahead with Guy Nicholl sprinting up the wing, demolishing opposition tacklers on the way, and touching down for his second try. The conversion was again missed but Grove were now virtually unassailable at 10 : 27. It was left to the Devizes scrum half to restore some pride when he darted over after a neat side step to take the score to 15 : 27. Although the conversion attempt was missed the referee allowed it to be re-taken and this time no mistake was made and the score became 17 : 27. Devizes continued to press hard but Grove's defences held firm to seal the victory.
Grove’s previous friendly matches ended with one draw and two wins. Witney from the division above Grove were held to a 12 : 12 draw at Witney with Grove’s try scorers being Lee Wright (1) and Nick Sevier (1) with Dave Maryon adding a conversion. Supermarine were blown away 54 : 10 at Grove with the home side’s try scorers being Nick Sevier (2), Jamie Burns (2), Jack Ponting (1), Steve Dixey (1), Harry Carr (1) and Dave Maryon (1) who also added 7 conversions. Grove’s biggest pre-season triumph was a deserved 19 : 21 win at Oxford Harlequins from two divisions above. Grove’s try scorers being Joe Bellinger (1) and Harry Carr (1) with Dave Maryon adding 1 conversion and 3 penalties.
Grove 1st team’s league season starts next Saturday away to last season’s relegated Reading Abbey.