Grove RFC (23) vs. Aylesbury RFC (19)
By John Sevier
Grove hold on to beat league leaders Aylesbury at fortress Cane lane.
Grove held on desperately at the end of this match to gain a valuable victory against league leaders Aylesbury, having built up a substantial lead during the first three quarters of the game.
Grove took an immediate 3 point lead at the start of the match when scrum half Roger Sevier nailed a long distance penalty kick but then almost lost the advantage by making a complete mess of the restart. Escaping from this Grove then extended their lead when right wing Harry Carr touched down unopposed between the posts having made a great solo break, following a high ball catch and quick pass from full back Chris Clare. Sevier's conversion put the home side 10 : 0 up. As the match progressed both sides and Aylesbury in particular were becoming extremely annoyed at some very strange refereeing decisions and non-decisions for which Grove were generally the beneficiaries, being awarded a whole series of penalties. However it was Grove who next shone legitimately when lock Paul Miles gathered beautifully from a 22 metre drop out to advance way up to the half way line. This in turn was followed by a penalty award which, despite the long range involved, was converted by Sevier, this time by way of a rebound off the upright to take Grove to 13 : 0. Before the restart Ryan Gordon temporarily substituted for No. 8 Jamie Fredericks who left the field with a blood injury. Grove now drove powerfully into the very large Aylesbury pack and were again rewarded with a penalty when Aylesbury were adjudged to have pulled down the maul. Again Sevier hit the upright with his kick but this time the ball rebounded back into play. Aylesbury stormed back but were unable to move into the Grove half and yet another penalty was awarded to the home side this time accompanied by a yellow card for one of the Aylesbury flankers. Good work by lock Stewart Sherwood meant Grove stole from an Aylesbury lineout and the resultant long kick took Grove way upfield again. Guy Nicholl started and almost successfully ended a great phase of passing, involving virtually all of the Grove forwards and backs but the ball was finally turned over to Aylesbury who missed touch with their clearance kick. Chris Clare gathered and charged back and his pass to wing Gareth Hudson would have resulted in a try but for the winger being nudged into touch just before reaching the line. Another penalty kick was awarded to Grove, this time for a high tackle and once again Sevier's conversion hit the upright but this time glanced inside for Grove to advance to 16 : 0. Leading up to half time more penalty awards came Grove's way, much to Aylesbury's disgust and unbelievably with his only attempt at the sticks from one of these penalties Sevier again hit the upright, for the fourth time in succession, but this time the ball again rebounded back into play and no points were forthcoming.
At the start of the 2nd half it was Aylesbury who were awarded a penalty but the attempt at the posts was missed. Aylesbury were now beginning to use their very large forwards as battering rams but to their credit the much smaller Grove forwards held them at bay. In particular Paul Miles tackling was outstanding. Grove's Jon North substituted at hooker for Steve Dixey and the war of attrition continued. Aylesbury were now however looking far more determined but again Chris Clare and Harry Carr were able to break out and take the ball way back into the Aylesbury half. With the Grove back line now looking the slicker of the two outfits, Grove centre Joe Bellinger attacked and drawing men to him spun the ball quickly across field for centre Ashley Lane to put Hudson over in the corner for a second fine Grove try. Roger Sevier's monstrously difficult kick from the touchline and into the wind superbly sailed between the posts and Grove were now 23 : 0 in front but all was not over! The restart went badly for Grove and again it was the Aylesbury forwards who bullocked their way to the Grove try line but without capitalising. Fly half and captain Nick Sevier then made one of his now famous one man breaks from the try line but on reaching half way seemed to run out of steam and had to pass and the attack broke down. Aylesbury now struck back with a superb counter-attack from their left winger and poor defensive work from Grove allowed one of the Aylesbury centres to score between the posts for a converted try. Nick Sevier again tore into Aylesbury with another very fast solo run but was brought down and penalised for 'holding on'. With the referee now seemingly awarding all of the advantages to Aylesbury it was Grove's turn to be disgruntled, no more so than when the ball was kicked through Chris Clare's legs only for a knock on to be awarded against him when the ball had clearly gone 3 metres backwards! Ryan Gordon now substituted for Stewart Sherwood and immediately made a great steal at an Aylesbury line out but the gain was short-lived as the Aylesbury forwards again ploughed into Grove and somewhat inevitably pushed over for a good try, converted to take the score to 23 : 14. Grove were now clearly showing the effects of the battering they had been taking from the Aylesbury forwards and an air of desperation seemed to be creeping in with some 15 minutes still to go. Then with Aylesbury virtually back on the Grove try line Guy Nicholl received a yellow card just when his team didn't need it and from the resultant penalty Aylesbury were able to crash over for their third try again from one of the big forwards. The conversion was missed but the game was now anybody's at 23 : 19, especially as the restart took place with Nicholl off the field and Roger Sevier seemingly out cold, flat on his back. Somehow however, through some desperate defensive work, particularly from Paul Miles, Grove held on and were ecstatic when the final whistle blew and the hard fought victory had been assured.