Milton Keynes (57) vs. Grove (18)
Unlucky Grove hammered at Milton Keynes
Any promotion hopes Grove may have had this season would appear to be over after Saturday’s crushing defeat at the hands of Milton Keynes. Furthermore their serious injury count in their most vulnerable positions continues to rise, making the challenges of their remaining games even more difficult.
Grove’s squad, already seriously decimated by injuries, was dealt a further massive blow at the start of this game when centre Dave Johnson had to be hospitalised with, at the time, a suspected broken leg. The injury came just one minute into the match following a neat inside switch to the centre which was read by MK and Johnson was crunched as he received the ball. The game was temporarily stopped while play was moved to an adjacent pitch. Full back Roger Sevier, deputising for injured brother Nick, moved into the vacated centre spot with Gareth Hudson coming on at wing and Henry Parsons moving to full back and the game was restarted from the initial kick off.
The MK forwards immediately took control with a massive drive to the Grove line but the move ended with a knock on. MK continued to attack with another big forwards drive and the first try came when a gap opened up in the Grove defensive line and the MK scrum half shot through to score the easiest of trys. The conversion put the hosts 7 : 0 up. MK continued their dominance but No. 8 Guy Nicholl gave Grove a ray of hope when he blasted off down the wing and almost made it to the try line with a great solo run ending with a Grove penalty line out. Nothing materialised for Grove from this and MK returned to the attack. They were then extremely lucky to be awarded a try following a blatant knock on from one MK player to another which ended with the second player touching down and the try being wrongly awarded. Sevier received a verbal warning from the ref following his totally justified protestations. The conversion was missed but the score had moved to 12 : 0. Grove then pulled three points back from a Sevier penalty with 20 minutes gone. Shortly after, a strong run from one of the MK backs, was rewarded with a try, which although deserved should not have been allowed as the player actually dropped the ball in the act of touching down. The conversion took the score to 19 : 3. Grove tried to fight back with scrum half Owen Gustafson charging up the wing but this move ended in a bout of fisticuffs. Minutes later more fisticuffs occurred and the MK winger was yellow carded. Grove took advantage and following a good run from centre Tom Harrington Gareth Hudson was put in for a try in the corner. The conversion was missed but the score was now 19 : 8. MK returned to the attack but Grove then lost fly half Dave Maryon to a sprained ankle, sustained while attempting a clearance kick. The first half was then brought to a close.
Forwards replacement Alex Morgan came on in the centre for Maryon and Sevier moved to fly half but with two key backs now missing the flood gates opened for MK. Three more trys and two conversions took the score to 38 : 8 and there was no way back for Grove. Despite the deficit No. 8 Nicholl, flanker Matt Young and hooker Dave Needham in particular were now fighting like Trojans for Grove. Grove’s attack in general was now noticeably more positive and they were rewarded when Nicholl crossed the line to take the score to 38 : 13. With the game now all but won by MK one of their 'officials' showed some remarkable bad sportsmanship when he blew a very loud raspberry as Sevier was running up for his conversion attempt, which was not surprisingly missed but unfortunately it seems the ref did not hear the distracting noise. A poor clearance kick by Grove lead to the next gift try for MK and the score moved to 45 : 13. Following a line out and drive the strong MK forwards crossed the line and the score moved to 52 : 13. Huw Lewis substituted for Gareth Hudson and then following a good run from wing Harry Carr, Grove’s Nicholl crossed for his second try in the corner to take the score to 52 : 18 but MK had the last laugh when they were awarded another try which was never touched down! With an MK player squashed against the upright he put his foot on the ball which by now was on the ground against the post protector and the referee amazingly awarded a try! Somehow the easy conversion in front of the posts was missed and the game ended with Grove on the wrong end of a 57 : 18 scoreline.