Grove (15) vs. Wootton Bassett (18)
Grove lose a very close game to Wootton Bassett.
Fifteen penalty points from the boot of fly half Dave Maryon were not enough to stave off defeat in this closely fought and crucial top of the table match. Prior to the match Grove had been in 2nd place and WB in 3rd. After this match WB stay in 3rd but 2nd place has now been taken by Windsor with Grove dropping to 4th.
Grove started strongly with prop Tim Lane and hooker Steve Dixey crashing into the WB defences at the breakdown but then suffered a lost lineout which lead to the WB fly half kicking the ball deep into Grove territory. Having then regained possession WB were first on the scoresheet when a fast break through Grove’s back line defence lead to a penalty which their No. 4 slotted for a 0 : 3 lead after approx. 5 minutes. The lead was extended after 12 minutes when again the Grove backline defence was breached and this time WB scored a converted try for a 0 : 10 lead. Grove hit back hard with effective ‘pick and go’ tactics from the forwards and were rewarded when a penalty was forced in the WB 22 metre area. Unfortunately the kick was missed but Grove continued to attack until another massive clearance kick from the WB No.10 got them out of trouble. Again Grove came back and again were awarded a penalty which this time Maryon slotted to take the score to 3 : 10. WB stormed back and themselves were awarded a penalty in front of the Grove posts when Tim Lane was adjudged to have handled in the ruck, for which he duly received a yellow card. Amazingly the simple kick was missed by WB and Grove were let off the hook. Grove came back again through great work by Joe Bellinger and a huge touch kick from Maryon which took Grove to just five metres from the WB try line. From this Grove launched a tremendous attack involving virtually the whole team and although they could not break the frantically defended WB line they did eventually win a penalty in front of the posts which Maryon slotted for 6 : 10, with 30 minutes gone. Almost immediately however WB hit back and were able to touch down in the corner for an unconverted try taking the score to 6 : 15. Yet again Grove stormed back but losing possession to WB the now familiar siege gun kick got the visitors out of trouble. Again Grove advanced this time through a smart run up the centre of the field by centre Nick Sevier which ended with Dave Maryon chipping neatly ahead and winning a footrace to the line but the ref adjudged the ball not to have been grounded properly and Grove were brought back for a penalty award against a WB ‘lazy runner’. Sadly for Grove the kick at the posts was missed and the score remained at 6 : 15 which became the half time score.
The second half started with Grove rejigging, bringing Joe Bellinger into the centre in place of Ashley Lane with Jimmy Wallbridge coming on from the bench. Tim Lane put in a monster tackle on his opposite number but nevertheless it was WB who attacked again following another massive kick downfield. Grove scrum half Owen Gustafson sniped back but the ball was lost and again the big kick was delivered by WB. Again Grove moved back into WB territory and were once more awarded a penalty but again this was missed and the chance to close the gap had momentarily gone. Flanker Carl Alder then went down in agony and had to be replaced by Jack Horrocks. Matt Young now stood out with frenetic attacks which lead to another Grove penalty, slotted by Dave Maryon for 9 : 15, but brother Steve Maryon was injured and had to be replaced by Jon North. Grove’s forwards now looked to be gaining the ascendancy although things were still very tight but eventually another penalty to Grove meant Maryon was able to take the score to 12 : 15. WB stormed right back to the Grove line but their good work was undone when their winger was sin-binned for punching. Wing Guy Nicholl then launched a strong attack and WB discipline started to go with Grove getting penalties for dissent and advancing upfield as a result. Eventually a penalty was awarded within kicking distance and the pressure kick was successfully put over by Maryon to level the scores at 15 : 15 with virtually no time left in the match. Then just as everyone was settling for a draw Grove were taken back to their own half as a result of another WB howitzer kick. This in turn lead to a penalty being given away by Grove for offside in front of their own posts and the kick was put over by WB to secure their win at 15 : 18.
Grove 2nds secured a fine 50 : 5 win against Phoenix 2nds with Roger Sevier returning from injury, scoring 20 points from a try, a penalty and six conversions. Tom Harrington scored a hat trick of tries while Mark Tugwell, Danny Ferguson and Josh Allen bagged one try each. As a result Grove 2nds moved back to top of their division.