Depleted Grove lose out to Newbury Stags
October 23rd - Grove fail to spark away to a committed Newbury Stags side
Grove, already without the Sevier brothers, Tom Clipsham, Jon North and Rob Weaving, lost the experience of Richard Keen and with Jamie Burns unwell and unable to start the game, had an unfamiliar line-up for saturdays game at Newbury. With Newbury clearly up for the game, Grove had no answer to their mauling and with the referee not applying the same set of laws at the breakdown for both sides, found it difficult to gain any momentum. Newbury scored 3 tries playing with the wind in the 1st half, with flanker Fredericks replying with one of his own, fly-half John Barrett converting for a half time score of 19-7. The referee applied his interpretation of the new rucking law, regularly penalising the Grove players for competing for the ball, but seemed reluctant to apply the same regulation to the Newbury players which prevented much of the attacking turnover ball they won legally from being used. Stand-in skipper Jimmy Wallbridge led from the front and indeed Grove had dominance in the scrums for most of the game but with the Newbury maul working well and much of the ruck ball badly referee'd, Grove struggled against the wind.
Grove spent the 2nd half on the front foot and put Newbury under some pressure and with Barrett putting over a simple penalty for 19-10, looked like scoring several times. Unfortunately, unlike every other game so far this season, they failed to capitalise on the chances when they came along and paid the price. On one occasion, Grove felt they were denied a penalty try when the Newbury forwards gave away 4 consecutive penalties inside a minute on their own line. The referee again appeared reluctant to penalise Newbury further and indeed marched Grove back 10 metres when captain Wallbridge questioned the equity of his decisions. The percieved unjustness of this was frustrating for the Grove players and supporters, and sapped some of the confidence in their abilities to win this game, and the game predictably ended with another failed attempt to score a try when a penalty kick would have gained a bonus losing point.
Without wishing to appear bad losers, this game was not referee'd well but Newbury took their chances and Grove didn't. With Milton Keynes visiting Cane Lane next week, Grove will have to up their game if they want to compete for the league title this season.
Try - Fredericks
Con - Barrett
Pen - Barrett
Wallbridge, Dixey, Lane, Miles, Chapman, Fredericks, G Nicholl, Bellinger, Nedelkoff, Barrett, Harrington, Law, B Nicholl, Carr, Clare
Walsh, Sherwood, Burns