Swindon (51) vs. Grove (29)
Depleted Grove go down to new league leaders Swindon.
Grove took a somewhat depleted side to Swindon and perhaps not unexpectedly lost quite heavily to the new league leaders. Grove were without Prop Richard Keen (moved to Brighton RFC) and injured Ben Nicholl, Guy Nicholl, Steve Dixey and Joe Bellinger.
Swindon ran in two tries in the first 5 minutes given very poor defence by Grove and went 12 : 0 up before Grove had even touched the ball. The visitors hit back with their first piece of possession when captain and fly half Nick Sevier accepted a quick inside pass from centre Ashley Lane and ran a good diagonal line to score near the left hand upright. Roger Sevier's seemingly straightforward conversion was blown wide by the wind and the score stayed at 12 : 5. Swindon hit back immediately and again with no defence from the Grove backs were able to exploit a 3 man overlap to run in a third try to the corner. The difficult touchline conversion was beautifully slotted by the Swindon fly half and after 12 minutes the score had moved to 19 : 5. Swindon again attacked superbly down the left and their full back look destined to score a fine bonus point try when prop Jimmy Wallbridge put in the tackle of the match smashing the no.15 into touch. The tackle was so effective the full back could play no further part in the game and he was substituted. At the 25 minute mark Swindon extended their lead to 22: 5 with a penalty. Grove's ageing hooker Jon North brought Grove back into the game with a superb run to the line, beating two defenders in the process and touched down in the corner. The conversion was missed and the score now stood at 22 : 10. It was again Grove who changed the scoreline when left wing Gareth Hudson ran in a tremendous try from his own half of the field, sidestepping two defenders and beating off the tackle of a third to again touch down in the corner. Again the wind affected conversion was missed but the score was now 22 : 15. A Swindon penalty was reversed when Swindon prop and ex-Grove player Pat McBain launched a physical attack on Grove scrum half Roger Sevier. Regardless of this it was Swindon who scored next with a try to take the score to 27 : 15. Grove's centre Jamie Burns was then felled by a dangerously high tackle whilst making a very promising attack and the Swindon fly half went into the bin. Following the resultant penalty, right wing Harry Carr was unlucky not to be awarded a try in the corner when the Swindon touch judge very dubiously late flagged him for being in touch following a fine run to the line where he touched down.
Grove started the second half the better and it was not long before Nick Sevier bagged his second try of the day with a very powerful and swift solo effort run to the line, scoring between the posts. Brother Roger had no difficulty with the conversion and Grove were seemingly back in the hunt at 27 : 22. Swindon hit back strongly but were temporarily held up by some terrific tackling by flanker James Kerr. Jimmy Wallbridge was replaced by Martyn Walsh for Grove but Swindon then scored again after a long pass to their wing allowed the player to run in a good try and the score moved to 32 : 22. The hosts then destroyed Grove's chances of a win with another try between the posts following a complete absence of tackling by the Grove defence. The conversion took Swindon into a 39 : 22 lead. Ben Law then came on into the centre with Ashley Lane moving to full back to replace the injured Chris Clare. No sooner had Law come on when a poor clearance kick by Swindon went straight to him and neatly collecting the ball he smashed his way through the defence to score for Grove. Roger Sevier's conversion took the score to 39 : 29. Then the wheels fell off! Very peculiarly, following a clear spear tackle on Harry Carr, which the referee signalled as such and which should have resulted in a straight red card for the Swindon player, he instead awarded the resultant penalty to Swindon! Nonplussed the stunned Grove players had no answer when Swindon quickly ran in another try following their good fortune from the ref and the score moved to 44 : 29. It was Swindon who again took advantage of Grove's lack of effective tackling when they ran in their last try, converted to take the score to its final position of 51 : 29. At this point Jon North was replaced by Simon Peel and passive scrummaging was ordered. Grove then launched a surprise attack and should have scored through Roger Sevier who, with the line at his mercy and no defenders to beat, knocked the ball forward. As a result of his verbal reaction to this error he was awarded a yellow card and played no further part in the game.
With both Wootton Bassett and Windsor being surprisingly beaten the race for promotion is still wide open for any of seven clubs, including Grove who are now 4th in the league.