<strong>Grove (36) vs. Alchester (16)</strong>
<strong>Grove go back to top of the league after beating Alchester at Fortress Cane Lane</strong>
Grove re-established themselves as league leaders with a good bonus point win against league new boys Alchester on Saturday. After the debacle at Windsor two weeks before, Grove needed to deliver a much better performance to show they were worthy of their claim to be one of the best teams in the league. Their delivery against Alchester was certainly an improvement but there is still some way to go before this team plays to its full potential. Once again there were too many turn overs, general errors and indiscipline.
Fly half Tom Miles gave Alchester a 0 : 3 lead within two minutes of the start as a result of a penalty awarded for an illegal tackle. Grove then fluffed a penalty kick to touch but did put in an attack which ended with a line out to Alchester but this had taken Grove to within 5 metres of the Alchester try line. Grove continued the pressure with good charges from front row men Steve Dixey and Martyn Walsh, locks Paul Miles and Steve Maryon with prop James Eckert almost making the line. Then with a neat blind side move between scrum half Owen Gustafson and flanker Carl Alder the latter was able to touch down to put Grove in front. Full back Nick Sevier’s touch line conversion made it 7 : 3 to Grove with 10 minutes gone. Grove then immediately transgressed to give Alchester a very kickable penalty but fortunately for the home side this was missed. Within minutes however another penalty was this time kicked by Tom Miles to take the score to 7 : 6. An Alchester drop goal attempt from Miles then went wide. A good run out of defence by Sevier lead to a Grove penalty and good work from flanker Matt Young saw the home side close on the Alchester try line again. From the next 5 metre scrum No. 8 Joe Bellinger spun off the back and slipped the ball neatly to Gustafson who had no trouble in touching down. The conversion fell short but Grove were now 12 : 6 in front. Next Steve Dixey made a superb long break in midfield, spinning the ball wide to wing Harry Carr only for some ‘last ditch’ Alchester defence to stop the flying wing from scoring. Grove then wasted a penalty kick by giving the ball straight back to Alchester which lead to a strong attack from visiting centres Jack Briggs and Ieuan Robinson that should have lead to a score if Harry Carr had not forced his opponents into touch. Just before half time a penalty award to Grove was reversed with prop Walsh being given a yellow card for allegedly stamping. The kick was missed and Grove hit back with a strong run from wing Guy Nicholl. The half ended however at 12 : 9 following a successfully kicked penalty to Alchester in front of the Grove posts.
Dave Needham started the second half at hooker with Dixey moving to prop and Alder leaving the field for the carded Walsh. Grove were the livelier with Bellinger and Gustafson again teaming up well and new centre Peter Cakebread starting to show his abilities for the first time. Sevier then delivered a good charge having taken an awkward ball in his own half, which ended with a penalty to Grove. Unluckily Sevier’s kick rebounded off the upright. Paul Miles lead the next promising Grove attack but a difficult pass to fly half Dave Maryon from Gustafson was knocked on. Alder now returned to the field to become a full time replacement for Walsh who played no further part in the match. Grove then squandered a beautiful scoring opportunity when Sevier burst through the defence only to see his pass to unmarked winger Guy Nicholl dropped! Grove were now in the ascendency however and good work was coming from Gustafson and the back row, especially Matt Young who always looked dangerous. The home side pressure lead to another penalty which this time was successfully slotted by Sevier to put Grove further ahead at 15 : 9. Captain Ben Nicholl now came off the bench to replace Alder. Nicholl’s arrival added a new dimension and he immediately lead a great attack which also involved Bellinger and Dixey and which resulted in a kickable penalty which sadly Sevier this time missed. Undaunted Grove continued to attack and a neat kick ahead from Dave Maryon lead to Cakebread bursting through and with a final pass to Ben Nicholl, allowed the skipper to touch down between the posts. Sevier’s conversion putting Grove 22 : 9 in front. It was also Ben Nicholl who then lead the next Grove attack with a surging run but it was Alchester who then charged back only to be finally stopped by good defensive work from centre Jamie Burns. Another big attack from Alchester was then completely thwarted by Guy Nicholl who took a great interception and running the full length of the field scored Grove’s bonus point try. Sevier’s conversion was a formality and Grove were now out of sight at 29 : 9. Alchester did not give up however and their forwards were having success turning the Grove scrum on occasion. A big Alchester attack up the wing was ended by Guy Nicholl although his tackle was adjudged to be illegal. A loose pass by Grove was then cleanly intercepted by Alchester’s number 12 who ran in unopposed to enable his side to narrow the gap by a further 7 points. Good work from Burns then saved his side from conceding another try after Sevier spilled a catch from a high ball. The last move was lead mainly by Cakebread who evaded Alchester’s tackling attempts to set up Guy Nicholl’s second try. Sevier added the extras and the match finished at 36 : 16.
Next week the match at unbeaten Beaconsfield will undoubtedly prove a much sterner test for Grove and they will need to raise their game again to win.
Grove 2nds had a fine bonus point win beating Chinnor IV at Chinnor by 7 : 24 scores coming from Mike Davies (2 x trys), James Brufell (try), Dan Ferguson (try) and Alex Morgan (2 x conversions).
Grove 3rds completed the club's hat trick of bonus point wins by beating Bicester 2nds at Grove by 37 : 17. Grove's scorers were Ben Law (2 x trys), Steve Coad (2 x trys), Steve McCann (try), Rob Weaving (try), Lucas Hill (2 x conversions + 1 x penalty)