Grove (24) vs. Aylesbury (15)
Grove retain league leadership
Grove stay in league 1st place after a storming first half against Aylesbury which saw the home side score four tries, including a hat trick from left wing Guy Nicholl.
Aylesbury were the first to attack and were awarded a kickable penalty which was missed, due in no small part to the strong crossfield wind that was blowing. Grove's fly half Dave Maryon brought his team right back into things firstly with a very long 22 drop out followed by a penalty kick to the Aylesbury corner. It was then the same player who deftly set up Guy Nicholl's first try with a deceptive blind side flick pass to the winger who did not hesitate to capitalise with a try close to the posts. Fellow wing Harry Carr slotted the conversion to put Grove 7 : 0 ahead with just 9 minutes gone. Aylesbury were awarded another kickable penalty but again this was badly missed and Grove came back again with strong ground work from captain and prop James Eckert, lock Paul Miles and flanker Carl Alder. With Grove advancing steadily upfield it was the Maryon / Nicholl combo that again developed Grove's 2nd try, this time with the fly half chipping neatly ahead for the winger to pounce once again. Carr's conversion putting Grove 14 : 0 up after 15 minutes. Despite these setbacks Aylesbury continued to pressure Grove and continuing to have the majority of possession finally slotted a penalty to get on the scoreboard at 14 : 3. The Aylesbury scrum half was now beginning to look dangerous spreading the ball well but despite this it was Miles who stole an interception ball and quickly feeding Owen Gustafson the scrum half found the ever hungry Guy Nicholl who gobbled up his hat trick try for a 19 : 3 Grove lead. Grove's Nick Sevier now came on as a replacement centre for the injured Joe Bellinger. Following a poor restart from Aylesbury Grove hooker Steve Dixey ploughed menacingly into the Aylesbury forwards but with a penalty awarded to Aylesbury their No. 9 made a lovely sniping run to the Grove line and touched down for a fine individual try to narrow the gap to 19 : 8 with 25 minutes of the match gone. Grove continued to look slick and a powerful attack from Sevier saw the centre almost touch down, being stopped just short of the line. Dixey, Miles and Gustafson piled on the pressure and it was full back Huw Lewis entering the fray from deep, who was able to go over for Grove's bonus point try. With the conversion missed the score stood at 24 : 8 and it was beginning to look like Grove were in for a landslide victory. Grove continued to attack relentlessly and Maryon was unlucky with a drop goal attempt that sailed wide with the wind. Sevier's touchdown was then disallowed following a great run from Carr which ended with a forward pass to the supporting centre but Grove were looking indomitable. The disciplined Grove pack now drove their counterparts backwards and inside centre Phil Kelly was able to make a strong run at the line, the ball finally being lost in a tackle. Undeterred, flanker Matt Young, No.8 Ben Nicholl and prop Martyn Walsh smashed back into Aylesbury but were not able to increase the score which thus stood at 24 : 8 at half time.
The second half proved to be a completely different scenario to the first with Aylesbury coming back hard at Grove with no small measure of skulduggery included. Following a Grove mistake in defence it was the visiting side who were able to score when the ball was lost on the ground and the left wing dashed through to touch down in the corner for 24 : 15 after 10 minutes of the half, the touchline conversion being successful. Grove's composure was now beginning to look a bit shaky and more mistakes followed and the game was definitely beginning to degenerate into a bit of a roughhouse. Roger Sevier came on as replacement for Kelly and moved to fly half with Maryon moving to centre. Jimmy Wallbridge also replaced Tim Lane at prop. Grove now stepped up their attacks but could not sustain them and the game began to take on the nature of a stalemate. With the game going nowhere it was not long before a massive punch up developed which ended with one of the Aylesbury wings and Roger Sevier each receiving yellow cards for fighting. Aylesbury now pressured hard with their scrum half's attempted touchdown adjudged to be 'held up'. Eventually it was Gustafson who was able to relieve the pressure for Grove with an interception and long break down the touchline which took Grove to the far end of the field. Despite renewed pressure from Nick Sevier, Eckert, Alder, Ben and Guy Nicholl, which took the home side attackers right to the Aylesbury line, the ball was somehow lost and Aylesbury escaped. Eventually a somewhat dour and disappointing half came to a close with no further scoring and Grove had emerged as deserved winners although not having scored at all in the second half.