Tadley (6) vs. Grove (37)
Grove bonus point win moves them to joint 4th in the league
Grove gained an emphatic bonus point win at Tadley on Saturday but the host team deserve much credit for making it a hard earned victory. It speaks much for Grove's defence though that although Tadley had a considerable amount of possession during the game they were not able to cross the Grove line and could only achieve points from two penalty kicks. At the same time the Grove attack, when it went well, was awesome, delivering six trys.
Grove's first try came from left wing Guy Nicholl after just 5 minutes following a slick move between forwards and backs which saw the winger touchdown in the corner. Centre Nick Sevier's conversion attempt missed but Grove were already looking very purposeful. The next try came within a minute when Sevier dummied his way through the defence then passed to Nicholl who unselfishly returned the ball for Sevier to touch down between the posts. Converting his own try Sevier took the score to 0 : 12. Tadley then came back with 6 points from 2 penalty kicks despite strong work from Grove's lock Paul Miles and flanker Matt Young in the preceding plays. Again Miles and Young were strong from the restart and Grove got the express train rolling again. Captain and prop James Eckert and hooker Jimmy Wallbridge were both outstanding in attack with some very slick handling between them. The return from illness of scrum half Owen Gustafson was now beginning to tell but after 30 minutes Grove suffered a setback when lock Lee Wright was sin-binned for alleged retaliation. Despite being down on numbers Grove's Wallbridge and centre Joe Bellinger then attacked strongly and right wing Harry Carr was put over in the corner for Grove's 3rd try to take the score to 6 : 17, Sevier's conversion missing. Tadley were then unlucky when their attacker dropped the ball with the try line at his mercy following a good surge. The same error was then immediately repeated by Tadley and Grove escaped with a healthy half time lead although the final result was by no means a foregone conclusion such was Tadley's strength, particularly from their pack.
No.8 Ben Nicholl and Young came to the fore from the restart and Grove's forwards immediately drove for the Tadley line with Wallbridge touching down for Grove's bonus point try for 6 : 22. With Grove's regular kicker Roger Sevier away at a wedding, Gustafson now attempted the conversion but missed. Grove kept up the pressure and Carr was unlucky not to be able to touch down following a neat chip ahead by fly half Dave Maryon. Jamie Burns substituted for Huw Lewis in the centre with Sevier moving to full back. Carr was again unlucky when he touched down only to be brought back for a forward pass in the build-up. Tadley were now getting 'touchy' and following a bout of rough stuff Grove were awarded a penalty in front of the posts which Gustafson duly slotted for 6 : 25. The returning Tim Lane substituted for prop Martyn Lewis and the Grove juggernaut continued to roll. Bellinger attacked strongly and Burns was unfortunate when the ball was dropped. Following a free kick Ben Nicholl attacked superbly himself and then slipped the ball to the supporting Maryon who had no trouble touching down between the posts for 6 : 32 given Gustafson's conversion. Flanker Ollie Highton then replaced Carl Alder for Grove. Nick Sevier next attacked strongly and successfully put Guy Nicholl away for his second try of the day which he touched down between the posts. The conversion was missed by Gustafson but Grove had moved to 6 : 37. Next came a double sin-binning following a punch from a Tadley player on Guy Nicholl. Nicholl received his card for alleged retaliation although he had kept his hands by his sides throughout the altercation. Miles was again strong in attack and Sevier and Burns both supported well with strong runs at the Tadley line but no further scoring developed and Grove emerged worthy winners at the final whistle.
Grove's Man of the Match, selected by head coach Craig Burrows and sponsored by The Shoulder of Mutton, Wantage, was Nick Sevier.