Grove (29) vs. Aylesbury (12)
Grove secure a necessary bonus point win to stay in the hunt for promotion.
With the top five teams in the Division having now pulled away from the lower six teams, Grove did what they had to do in gaining a bonus point win yesterday, when they hosted Aylesbury. This has moved Grove up to 2nd place, thanks to Windsor not playing yesterday, but unfortunately for Grove the remaining three teams from the top five also had bonus point wins so the pressure is still very much on for the remaining games this season, if a final place in the top two is to be achieved.
Grove started strongly and were on the scoresheet within 2 minutes following a strong burst from centre Dave Johnson who fed marauding No 8 Joe Bellinger for him to touch down between the posts. Fly half Dave Maryon added the extras for a 7 : 0 lead. Aylesbury hit back with a series of good driving mauls but a very long penalty kick from Maryon took the hosts back to the Aylesbury 22 metre line. It was not long before Grove extended their lead however when a penalty move involving scrum half Owen Gustafson, flanker Guy Nicholl, lock Paul Miles, wing Gareth Hudson and finally Matt Young saw the flanker touch down in the corner. With Maryon down injured full back Nick Sevier attempted the difficult conversion only to shave the outside of the left upright but Grove were 12 : 0 up and looking good. But then, following a missed touch kick from Grove, Aylesbury very quickly spun the ball across the pitch causing too many Grove players to go with the direction of play because Aylesbury then reversed the passing direction and Grove were caught with no defence in place and it was a simple matter for Aylesbury to touch down. The relatively straightforward conversion kick went badly wide but the score had moved to 12 : 5 with 30 minutes gone. Grove then sadly lost flying winger Harry Carr when he went for a catch following a huge kick upfield but fell so badly that he could take no further part in the game. Carr was replaced by Roger Sevier, returning from a long term ankle injury, and Grove shuffled the back line to allow their replacement to come in at fly half. Aylesbury tried to take advantage of the Grove re-arrangements by attacking ferociously but a monster try saving tackle by Nick Sevier saved the day for Grove. Grove skipper and lock James Eckert lead Grove’s resurgence with a good run up the park which in turn lead to Gustafson gathering and passing to the now ever present Nick Sevier who sprinted through the Aylesbury defences to score a super try with a Chris Ashton like dive into the corner. Roger Sevier, taking over place kicking duties, was unlucky with the difficult conversion which rebounded off the upright. The half time score thus became 17 : 5.
Grove again started very strongly and quickly extended their lead when after a promising team surge upfield Roger Sevier was able to throw out a massively long pass to brother Nick, lurking on the touchline, for the full back to be able to score his second and the team’s bonus point try, with another touchdown in the corner. The conversion was missed but Grove were now in a commanding position at 22 : 5. Grove continued to attack with Maryon, now playing inside centre, showing magician like hand speed with some very deft inside passes to both Joe Bellinger and prop Steve Dixey. Grove did then seem to go off the boil for a while, in particular by giving away far too many penalties but this was relatively short lived and they came back with wing Tom Harrington just not quite finishing off a promising attack which saw him fly hacking the ball to the line only for it to go into touch at the last moment. Undaunted Grove kept up the pressure and it was flanker Guy Nicholl who finished things off with a neat try between the posts, Roger Sevier adding the extras for a 29 : 5 scoreline. Jimmy Wallbridge and Jack Horrocks now came on as replacements for Dixey and hooker Dave Needham but Grove were then dealt a blow when Guy Nicholl was yellow carded for an alleged stamp. Taking advantage of the Grove numbers deficit Aylesbury used their big forwards to smash into Grove and one of their props was able to force his way over the line for a consolation try, converted to take the score to its final position of 29 : 12. Sadly the game ended badly when following a late tackle from Dave Johnson a massive punch up developed which, had the referee not decided to end the game there and then, could have resulted in yellow and red cards for a number of players from both sides.