Grove (34) vs Tadley (7)
By John Sevier
Grove keep promotion hopes alive with a fine, bonus point, win over Tadley.
Beset by injuries, the somewhat changed Grove side, began in lively fashion, winning a penalty in front of the posts. Foregoing the easy 3 points on offer, scrum half Owen Gustafson, took a quick tap and from the resultant maul, No. 8 Guy Nicholl picked up, charged and with a lovely solo run, touched down between the posts for a 5 point lead. Fly half Roger Sevier's conversion took this to 7 : 0 with just five minutes gone. Tadley pushed back but Grove's forwards were looking good. A long range penalty attempt by Sevier dropped short and Tadley came again. But then good attacking runs from hooker Dave Needham, flanker Matt Young and Gustafson and finally skipper and lock James Eckert, took Grove close. The move ended with a penalty when Tadley handled in the ruck, and Sevier duly slotted the kick to put Grove 10 : 0 clear after 21 minutes. Grove kept up the pressure with good attacking work from flanker Carl Alder, centre Dave Johnson and full back Nick Sevier but could not convert this to points despite Roger Sevier just losing out on a chase to the Tadley line, following his chip ahead. Then the first of a series of bizarre refereeing decisions lead to a Tadley try, much against the run of play. With Tadley attacking but clearly offside at a ruck and with the referee apparently signalling advantage to Grove for the offence, the ball was stolen by Tadley and the referee amazingly allowed their attack to continue, despite the so called Grove advantage! This lead to a Tadley line out from which their forwards drove to the Grove line for a touchdown which was then converted to take the score to 10 : 7 with 30 minutes gone. Both Dave Johnson and Nick Sevier (blood) went down with injuries and the latter was temporarily replaced by Henry Parsons. Winger Huw Lewis received his second high tackle of the day, without punishment, but Grove were then awarded another penalty which Roger Sevier successful kicked for a 13 : 7 lead. Attacking again, Grove kept up the pressure with big charges from Needham, Alder and lock Paul Miles until Matt Young went for the line but was stopped just short. The flanker managed to get the ball back to Gustafson who shot over for a great try in the corner. Sevier's touch line conversion took the score to 20 : 7. Then following a fine run from centre Tom Harrington Tadley again handled in a ruck but no scoring resulted and the half ended at 20 : 7.
With Grove now playing against all the elements, including a fierce wind, they needed to score two more trys to achieve their goal of a bonus point win and given the conditions this outcome was now looking somewhat doubtful. Predictably with the wind at their backs Tadley now pinned Grove down in their own 22 metre area and in fact crossed the Grove try line only for the ref to adjudge the try attempt to be 'held up'. Tadley continued to press Grove but couldn't crack the defence and gradually Grove began to pull away from their own try line. Then, in the best move of the day, Gustafson fed Roger Sevier, who side-stepped his opposite number to feed Dave Johnson who in turn fed Nick Sevier who moved the ball to Tom Harrington who finally popped the ball to Huw Lewis which took the home side all the way into their opponents 22 metre area for a line out. Grove's confidence was now noticeably growing and Nicholl was unlucky with a charge to the line which was stopped by the last remaining defender. Grove kept the pressure on but handling errors let the home side down. Huw Lewis was substituted by Henry Parsons. Tadley then took a free kick from a point some five metres in front of the mark and getting away with it launched a big attack. Tom Harrington stemmed the attack supported by Young and again it was Gustafson who continued the recovery. Tadley again took advantage of sloppy refereeing, taking a line out some two metres inside the touchline, which went unpunished. Nick Sevier lead the next Grove counter-attack with a side-stepping run back into Tadley territory. Jimmy Wallbridge replaced prop Tim Lane for Grove. Finally the breakthrough came when Needham charged and popped the ball to the unmarked Eckert who ran in between the posts leaving Roger Sevier an easy conversion for a 27 : 7 lead. With only five minutes left it was Carl Alder who lead Grove's next attack supported well by Young who broke clear and fed Gustafson who slipped the ball to his full back Nick Sevier who, despite now suffering a broken hand, weaved his way to the line, side-stepping all in his path, to touch down for Grove's final and bonus point try. Brother Roger's conversion taking the score to 34 : 7. Kit Tinker then made his first team debut on the right wing, substituting for Gareth Hudson and was unlucky not to score when Tom Harrington had a superb run up the right flank, just failing to find his winger at the last moment. By this time Grove were reduced to 14 men as Johnson had to leave the field injured but the game ended and Grove had achieved their goal.