Beaconsfield (33) vs. Grove (30)
Grove cruelly denied a deserved victory from this crucial encounter.
Grove were robbed of a crucial victory on Saturday by a refereeing blunder although to be fair this was a match that neither side deserved to lose.
Grove’s troubles started before the match when full back Nick Sevier twisted his ankle in the ‘warm up’. Although able to take the field, his place kicking duties had to be passed to fly half Dave Maryon.
Grove started very strongly with their forwards firing on all cylinders. Captain and No. 8 Ben Nicholl, flankers Joe Bellinger, Matt Young and hooker Steve Dixey in particular making strong attacks from what was clearly a calculated game plan. Despite this it was Beaconsfield who went 3 : 0 in front from a simple penalty kick after 12 minutes. Grove came back very strongly with two superb moves, which included a two hand off run from Bellinger and a beautiful reverse pass from Maryon to Steve Dixey. In the next phase a neat chip ahead by Dave Maryon allowed wing Guy Nicholl to force a lineout deep in Beaconsfield territory but Beaconsfield moved Grove back to halfway with a good clearance kick and continued their push to the visitors try line, only to knock on. Unfortunately at this time Grove centre Peter Cakebread was yellow carded for tackling a man without the ball. Despite this disadvantage Grove forced their way back into their hosts half and following a penalty award in front of the posts the Beaconsfield No’ 4 was also sin binned. Dave Maryon slotted the easy kick to level the scores at 3 : 3. Despite Sevier then being tackled without the ball the next Grove move was superb with Bellinger breaking out and feeding Guy Nicholl who sprinted three quarters the length of the field to score in the corner. The conversion was missed but Grove were now 3 : 8 in front. Grove continued to attack with superb play from scrum half Owen Gustafson who was turning his opposition inside out with, to Beaconsfield, some very unpredictable moves. Prop James Eckert was also very lively in attack and now Grove seemed to be able to turn their opposite pack at will. It was then Guy Nicholl who again set off to score his second try of the day and Grove moved to 3 : 13 in front. Beaconsfield fought back strongly and despite fierce resistance from Steve Dixey they were able to touch down to take the half time score to 8 : 13, the conversion being missed.
Both Beaconsfield and Grove had played some amazing rugby in the first half and in particular the Grove forwards had put in a really masterful display, dominating their counterparts throughout. At half time the badly limping Matt Young was replaced by Carl Alder.
The second half started badly for Grove when straight from the kick off the advantage was not taken and the home side were able to spread the ball wide and run in a soft try in the corner to level the scores at 13 : 13. After 10 minutes Grove hit back strongly and again it was the ubiquitous Guy Nicholl who gathered and sprinted half the length of the field, dummying his opponents, to touch down for his hat-trick try. The conversion was again missed but Grove had taken the lead again at 13 : 18. At this point the now badly hobbling Nick Sevier had to leave the field being replaced by 1st team debutante Mike Davies at full back. Paul Miles stood out from the restart but Beaconsfield were able to steal the ball and it was they who were starting to look good. Grove then suffered a severe blow when Cakebread was given a second yellow card, for a retaliatory punch, which was converted to red and Grove were down to 14 men for the remainder of the game. With only 15 minutes of the half gone Martyn Walsh was also replaced at prop by Steve Dixey with Dave Needham coming on as hooker. Naturally now Beaconsfield tried to exploit Grove’s player shortage and created an attacking overlap in their backs only to fumble the ball enabling Dave Maryon to fly hack through all the way to the Beaconsfield try line. With Beaconsfield's remaining defender desperately clinging on to the ball on the ground Grove were rightly awarded a penalty in front of the posts but foregoing the opportunity of an easy 3 point kick they spun the ball to centre Jamie Burns who touched down for a great bonus point try. The conversion being slotted by Maryon, Grove now moved to a lead of 13 : 25. Again Beaconsfield created an attacking overlap but superb defensive play by wing Harry Carr thwarted them. A kickable penalty was turned down by Beaconsfield in favour of a forwards drive and although initially unsuccessful their ball was spun to the blind side where they had a two to one player advantage and the try was inevitable. The conversion was successful and the score moved to 20 : 25. Both sides were now playing some desperate rugby but it was Beaconsfield who were getting on top with their manpower advantage. Then amazingly, with a 5 man overlap and only Harry Carr defending, they dropped the ball from what looked to be a certain try scoring movement. Quick as a flash, Carr collected the dropped ball and ran the full length of the field to score Grove’s fifth try and put the visitors into what seemed like an unassailable lead of 20 : 30. The conversion was however missed and Grove now just had to hang on with about 10 minutes to go. Naturally Beaconsfield stormed back and were able to score another try to narrow the gap to 25 : 30 and it was after this that the refereeing blunder occurred. Another try was awarded to Beaconsfield following a strong run up the wing despite a very clear forward pass in the movement. Despite the Grove players and supporters extremely vociferous objections the referee was unmoved and the score moved to 30 : 30. By now the Beaconsfield forwards were rampant and the Grove boys looked very tired. With well over 40 minutes played Grove conceded a penalty in the middle of the park and with the ref continuing to play an endless advantage to the home side they were able to drive Grove fully back to their own try line at which point, with the ref still signalling the same advantage to Beaconsfield, Steve Dixey went over the top and was given a yellow card. The resultant penalty was slotted and although the restart was allowed the game ended virtually immediately leaving Grove and their supporters feeling completely dejected from a game in which they had played some of their best rugby to date and which they didn’t deserve to lose so cruelly. The final score thus being 33 : 30 to Beaconsfield.