Grove (39) vs. Trowbridge (20)
On Saturday 27th April 2013, Grove beat Trowbridge from Southern Counties (South), to ensure promotion to South West 1 (East) next season.
Grove have had a long and potentially difficult run-in to the end of the season when, with six games to go, following their defeat by Buckingham, they had needed to beat all remaining opponents which included three of the top five teams in the Division, in order to qualify for a play off place. By winning all those games and by collecting essential bonus points along the way they earned a match against Trowbridge for the final accolade. By virtue of having earned more points than Trowbridge, Grove claimed home advantage and the match was played at Cane Lane. Incidentally in those last six matches Grove scored an amazing 300 points while only conceding 45 points.
The match started well for Trowbridge with a big attack from their right winger which ended in a penalty award to the visitors. The resultant penalty line out was however deftly stolen by Grove and the ball well cleared by fly half Dave Maryon. It was then that the centre combination of Joe Bellinger and Jamie Burns made major inroads into Trowbridge territory only for the ball to be knocked on when a Grove try looked to be the most likely outcome. Regaining possession, Grove came again with a monster drive from their forwards followed by flanker Dave Wells taking the ball on further himself. Then scrum half Owen Gustafson popped the ball quickly to full back Roger Sevier, who coming into the line, chipped to the corner for wing Harry Carr to collect and score a signature try. Sevier then converted to give Grove a 7 : 0 lead with just 11 minutes gone.
It was then No. 8 Ben Nicholl who lead the next Grove attack with a super run up the wing only to be taken into touch. Trowbridge came back into Grove territory but it was hooker Steve Dixey and Bellinger who then opened up the Trowbridge defence with Gustafson finally passing to the ever alert Carr who danced through several opponents before being brought down on half way. With a free kick awarded Nicholl again charged into Trowbridge’s defences but the move ended with a penalty to Trowbridge from which the visitors were able to put in a huge kick downfield. Undaunted, Grove hit back again through Bellinger and Carr the latter unluckily not quite reaching the ball which bounced into touch back in Trowbridge territory.
Flanker Carl Alder was very effective in the next forwards driving attack and with the ball secured it was Bellinger who made the last yards to the line for Grove’s second try after 17 minutes. The conversion attempt rebounded off the upright but Grove were now 12 : 0 up. It was now Trowbridge’s huge pack, coached by ex-Bath and England flanker Steve Ojomoh, that took command, driving towards the Grove line. As a result of Maryon diving over the top of a ruck the Grove fly half found himself in the sin-bin. The resultant Trowbridge penalty took the score to 12 : 3 with 22 minutes gone.
Grove regrouped with Sevier moving to fly half and wings Carr and Guy Nicholl covering the full back position between them. Despite being down to 14 men it was Grove who tore back into Trowbridge in the shape of Guy Nicholl who looked to be away and clear for another Grove try only to be tackled just short of the line. Nevertheless Grove were not to be denied and the loose ball was popped by Sevier to Dixey who found Bellinger, for the centre to bag his second try of the day. With Sevier’s successful conversion the score now moved to 19 : 3 and Grove’s confidence was high. Trowbridge at this point were beginning to look rattled.
With their thirst for points still not satiated it was Grove’s Alder and prop Tim Lane who lead the next attack with Gustafson sniping behind them. Lock Lee Wright appeared in the backs line and Grove maintained their advances. Fellow lock Paul Miles now showed his strengths with a big attack and suddenly Grove had a fairly long distance but nevertheless kickable penalty awarded which Sevier duly slotted for a 22 : 3 lead.
Grove’s attacks were now relentless and it was Tim Lane who stormed into Trowbridge with a great run, feeding the ball via Gustafson to Ben Nicholl who dashed for the line and touched down for Grove’s fourth try. Unconverted, the score had moved to 27 : 3 after 35 minutes and with Maryon returning to the field the Grove supporters were beginning to think victory was just a matter of course. Trowbridge had not read the same script however and it was they who powered back to score in the corner. The very difficult but successful conversion took the score to 27 : 10 and it was indeed Trowbridge who then finished the half looking the stronger side, despite an attempted break out by Carr which ended in a line out.
Grove lost Roger Sevier at half time with a dead leg and it was brother Nick Sevier who replaced him at full back. Trowbridge started the second half as they had finished the first and suddenly it was the Grove supporters turn to worry. With Jamie Burns suffering from an injured shoulder the centre was replaced by Tom Clipsham and Martyn Walsh came on at prop for the also injured Tim Lane.
Grove were definitely ‘under the cosh’ now but Trowbridge were then penalised for a tip tackle on Paul Miles although no card resulted. Grove were now making too many mistakes but dissention from Trowbridge did give Grove a brief respite with the referee awarding a penalty to Grove plus ten yards. Grove then suffered another blow when Ben Nicholl was yellow carded.
Trowbridge’s forwards were now hammering at Grove’s line and despite desperate defence by Grove it was inevitable that a forwards try would come and so it did. The successful conversion took the score to 27 : 17 and Grove were clearly looking to be in trouble. Trowbridge came again firstly though a beautifully taken line out and then from a penalty awarded in front of the posts which they duly converted for 27 : 20.
Now with only a converted try between the teams Grove had to do something to recover the situation. Trowbridge attacked the Grove line again but the move ended with a 22 metre drop out to Grove. Dave Wells now lifted the home crowd with a strong run at Trowbridge which ended in a penalty near half way. Harry Carr opted to kick for goal but it was a very optimistic call given the distance and strong wind against. Nevertheless the kick was only just short and Ben Nicholl returned to the fray. Roger Sevier also returned at fly half, substituting for Maryon.
Now, after the fairly long spell of Trowbridge pressure, Grove were beginning to regroup and to look good again. Then, following a Trowbridge line out from which the ball was stolen by Dave Wells, Guy Nicholl appeared and taking Gustafson’s nifty pass shot over the line to touch down in the corner. The difficult conversion was just wide but the score had moved to 32 : 20.
Trowbridge tried to come again but tremendous tackling by Harry Carr kept them at bay and it was Ben Nicholl who claimed the ball and charged back at the visitors. Then the irrepressible Carr did his greyhound act and stormed over to score between the posts making Sevier’s conversion a formality.
The score had reached its final point of 39 : 20 but the action continued. A penalty to Grove was reversed in Trowbridge’s favour but once taken the final whistle blew and Grove had very deservedly won a famous victory.
Grove team :-
Tim Lane, Steve Dixey, James Eckert (Capt), Lee Wright, Paul Miles, Dave Wells, Ben Nicholl, Carl Alder, Owen Gustafson, Dave Maryon, Joe Bellinger, Jamie Burns, Guy Nicholl, Harry Carr, Roger Sevier.
This promotion to South West 1 (East) has only ever been achieved by a Grove side once before with fairly depressing consequences in that the club only survived one season at the higher level before being relegated back to Southern Counties (North). This current squad looks to be much stronger than its predecessor however and there is no reason why, if they continue playing the way they have and avoid serious injuries, they should not survive and indeed do well at the higher level.
As well as to all the players and to all of the supporting retinue, great praise for this achievement, must go to Craig Burrows, in only his second season at Grove as Head Coach. James Eckert must also take a very well deserved bow for captaining the side so positively for the last two years.
Well done everyone and remember Grove RFC is not just a team, it’s not even a squad, it’s a family!!!!!