Slough (17) vs. Grove (22)
By John Sevier
Grove dog it out to get season's final win at Slough.
Grove 1st's ended their rugby season in a creditable league fourth place after beating Slough on Saturday whilst failing to get a bonus point from a match than was much closer than Grove fans were perhaps expecting. With a number of previous first team regulars available but missing from Saturday's squad, Grove dogged this one out to achieve a narrow win.
Grove took the lead immediately when fly half Dave Maryon slotted a penalty and for the next fifteen minutes the game resumed at lightning pace with centre Tom Harrington going close for Grove and hooker Jimmy Wallbridge making severe inroads into the Slough defence on more than one occasion. Despite this consistent Grove pressure Slough fought back and it was only some fearless last ditch tackling, particularly from stand-in scrum half Huw (The news) Lewis, that kept them at bay. Eventually however Slough overhauled the Grove lead with a converted try when their powerful pack drove to the line following a penalty line out. The lead was short-lived however because the ball was popped to Grove wing Harry Carr, again following a powerful run by Wallbridge who fed the wing who then shot over between the posts. Maryon's conversion took the score to 7 : 10 in Grove's favour. The game continued to be an 'end to end' affair but just before half time impressive Grove centre Jamie Burns had to be replaced by Tom Clipsham, the former having sustained a dislocated thumb. With only minutes to go before the interval the equally impressive Slough scrum half evaded several Grove tackling attempts to score an unconverted try, giving his side a half time lead of 12 : 10.
The second half saw the game becoming a forwards affair and for Grove, prop Tim Lane was outstanding. Despite this it was Slough who increased their lead when following more missed tackles from the visitors they went over for another unconverted try and were looking good at 17 : 10. Then they lost one of their props to the sin bin for not rolling away and from the ensuing penalty scrum good handling from Ben Nicholl and Lewis saw the ball shipped to Clipsham who smashed his way through three tackles to score a great try which Maryon converted to level at 17 : 17. Matt Young now replaced the hard working Carl Alder in the back row and Dave Needham came on for Wallbridge. Grove had a couple of scares when first a poor pass saw the Slough fly half intercept and go for the line only to be stopped by a great tackle from full back Henry Parsons then their winger actually got the ball over the line only for the referee to adjudge the ball to have been 'held up'. Grove now began to significantly ramp up the pressure and the final try came when the ball was spun to wing Guy Nicholl for him to dive over in the corner. The touch line conversion was missed but Grove had done just enough to secure the win.
It should be noted that Harry Carr and Guy Nicholl ended the season with 25 1st team trys each, a magnificent achievement for both the players and the club.