2nd October - Tadley vs. Grove.
By John Sevier
Grove continue their winning ways and go top of the division.
Grove 1sts delivered a mighty blow to Tadley on their own ground on Saturday with a 19 : 34 win that really should have been much bigger.
From the kick off Grove were in the ascendancy smashing their way into Tadley and were almost immediately awarded a kickable penalty, which was unexpectedly missed by scrum half Roger Sevier. Another penalty award followed and this time the more difficult kick was converted by Sevier to put Grove 0 : 3 in front. With very little time gone in the match Grove lost bustling flanker Jamie Fredericks to a bad head cut. Jon Chapman moved to flank and Rob Weaving came on into the vacant lock position. Another long range penalty was awarded to Grove and Sevier was unlucky when the ball hit the cross bar and dipped under. With only ten minutes gone Tadley lost their No. 8 to the sin bin for killing the ball. Tadley hammered the ball deep into Grove territory only for winger Harry Carr and full back Chris Clare to launch a great attack from defence finished off by a spectacularly long run up field from hooker Steve Dixey. Grove were now really getting into gear and the Tadley players were looking rattled. Following Grove's forwards turning their larger opponents in the scrum, fly half and captain Nick Sevier gathered, sidestepped three defenders and zoomed over the line for Grove's first touchdown, converted by brother Roger to put Grove 0 : 10 clear after 20 minutes. Sadly at this point Grove lost prop Jimmy Wallbridge to a leg injury and he was replaced by the irrepressable Jon North. Following a poor clearance kick from Tadley, Clare, aided by centre Tom Clipsham and wing Tom Harrington, sped back into the Tadley half and the wing was unlucky not to score between the posts. From this move however prop Richard Keen powered his way into Tadley, supported by a terrific run from centre Ben Nicholl who slipped the ball to Carr who touched down neatly in the corner for Grove to become 0 : 15 leaders with 25 minutes gone. At this point Tadley launched their first serious attack but this dissolved and it was Roger Sevier who recovered the position for Grove with a great break to take his side back into Tadley territory. A superb run from Clipsham and Harrington and swift passing between them led to Nick Sevier scoring his second try and with his brother's conversion Grove were 0 : 22 up. Approaching half time Ben Nicholl made another superb break, almost completed by Harrington but actually finished off by his brother and flanker Guy Nicholl, who charged over between the posts to score a neat 7 pointer. Grove thus finished the half with a lead of 0 : 29 and a bonus point secured but not before Tom Clipsham almost scored another try following a brilliant solo run.
In the second half it was the home side that started the better, almost scoring early when a strong attack from their full back ended with Grove being awarded a 22 metre drop out after the attacker had been bundled into touch in goal before he could touch down. Roger Sevier's drop out was spectacularly long and incisive catching Tadley with no defenders in place and taking Grove right down to their opponents 22 metre line. Sadly the follow up from Grove ended with Guy Nicholl being yellow carded for a dangerous tackle. Matters were made worse for Grove when Roger Sevier was wrongly penalised and even more amazingly yellow carded after he had burst through the middle of a ruck and gathered the 'open play' ball for a quick thinking attack. With Grove now down to 13 men Tadley powered over for a forwards try also converted to take the score to 7 : 29. Tadley who were now playing much better then scored their second converted try following some confusion in the Grove ranks and the score moved to 14 : 29. Grove woke up and struck back when following a good backs move Harry Carr shot over in the corner for his second try of the match. Unconverted, the score was now 14 : 34. Ashley Lane now came on for Grove, replacing Tom Harrington. Tadley attacked strongly through their forwards only to be stopped by monster tackles from Grove's No. 8 Joe Bellinger and lock Paul Miles. Grove then had Richard Keen yellow carded extremely dubiously when the player, who was still on his feet, was alledged to have ripped the ball off a player on the ground! At the death Tadley went over again in the corner for another unconverted try and the final score became 19 : 34. Grove could have increased their score with a final penalty award in front of the posts but went for an unsuccessful running move instead.
It was perhaps not surprising that Grove were unable to keep up the scintillating performance level of the first half against this strong Tadley side but although Nicholl's yellow card was justified it did seem that the referee had tried to 'even things up' between the sides in the second half, with two ridiculous yellow cards and a penalty count in this half of 19 to one in Tadley's favour!