Grove (27) vs. Windsor (23)
Grove return to top of the league and keep promotion hopes alive!
Grove avenged their earlier league defeat this season by beating Windsor in this crucial ‘must win’ match on Saturday. In so doing Grove not only gained a vital bonus point but went to the top of the league, given previous leaders Beaconsfield did not play this week. This was particularly impressive as Grove played virtually half the match with only 14 men and also just prior to the match lost dynamic prop Steve Dixey to sickness.
Within one minute Grove had a 3 point lead, thanks to a converted penalty from fly half Roger Sevier but this was short-lived as the very lively Windsor attack broke Grove tackles to touch down in the corner and with the difficult conversion put over were 3 : 7 in the lead, after just 10 minutes. Undaunted Grove hit back and following good work from Joe Bellinger, playing in the centre for the injured Dave Johnson, the ball was passed to scrum half Owen Gustafson who put in a great box kick for wing Harry Carr to chase. Collecting the ball neatly Carr’s speed saw him able to touch down for Grove to once again go into the lead. With the conversion missed the score had moved to 8 : 7. Windsor again hit back strongly but good tackling from Bellinger saved a try from being scored although Windsor were awarded a penalty which they duly slotted to take the lead back at 8 : 10. Now it was the Grove forwards turn to push forward and good work from prop Tim Lane, flankers Carl Alder and Matt Young plus hooker Dave Needham took the hosts back into their visitor’s territory. Then with a superb interception on 30 minutes Bellinger was away to the line for a try between the posts. Sevier’s conversion gave Grove a 15 : 10 lead and at this stage there was no way to predict who was going to win this epic and exciting game between two very evenly matched sides. Windsor then slotted another penalty, this time hitting the upright before passing through the posts, to move the half time score to 15 : 13. Just before half time No. 8 Guy Nicholl was sin-binned. Somehow though, through some heroic defence, particularly from Matt Young who was defiance personified, Grove survived the onslaught and held on for a half time lead.
In the second half another massive series of attacks from Windsor took them right up to the Grove try line and with a marvellous breakout following a long touch kick it was the Grove greyhound Harry Carr who sliced through the Windsor defences for his second try of the day, converted by Sevier to leave Windsor stunned and the score at 22 : 13. It was then Grove’s turn to be stunned when Nicholl was adjudged to have spear-tackled a Windsor player and so received a second yellow (thus red) card. Windsor had no trouble slotting the resultant penalty and they were back in the hunt at 22 : 16. With the one man advantage Windsor now kept up their relentless attacks, albeit through fierce resistance from Grove, but it was only a matter of time before the defences were breached and with an absence of effective tackling they were able to touch down again between the posts and the successful conversion put them back into the lead once again at 22 : 23. Grove regrouped and pushed back into Windsor territory with good runs from Young, Bellinger, Gustafson and both Roger and full back Nick Sevier, who had had a relatively quiet game up to this point. Using their one man advantage Windsor moved the Grove pack backwards with a series of very strong rolling mauls and came close to scoring but were forced into touch before they could. Bellinger then lead a superb counter attack by Grove and with the ever present Gustafson in support Grove were once again back to the Windsor 22 metre line. Here the attack was temporarily staunched by Windsor despite great thrusts from Young, skipper James Eckert, centre Dave Maryon and Carr. The breakthrough came when Nick Sevier entered the fray, and taking the ball several metres forward, was finally able to pop to Gustafson who shot for the line and then dived over for the final (bonus point) try of the day, putting Grove back in front at 27 : 23. With the conversion missed Grove now had to survive the remaining ten minutes. Playing very positively despite the precarious scoreline more adventure brought Grove close to scoring again when Roger Sevier dribbled his way to the try line only for the move to result in a Windsor penalty. Harry Carr had to be replaced by Jon North following an injury and Jimmy Wallbridge came on for lock Jack Horrocks. Now it was a case of playing down the clock which Grove did with dogged determination in a series of ‘pick and go’ mauls to which Windsor had no answer. When the final whistle blew there was great relief from Grove players and supporters alike given this had been an epic game which really could have gone either way. All credit must go to both teams for providing such fabulous entertainment.