Grove (31) vs. Olney (0)
By John Sevier
Grove defy dreadful playing conditions to deliver a masterful winning performance against promotion rivals Olney at the half way stage of the season.
On Saturday, in awful conditions, Grove played magnificently to beat promotion rivals Olney convincingly despite a spirited attacking game from the visitors and a referee who seemed determined to penalize Grove off the park for most of the match.
Grove's scoring started straight from the kick off when left wing Guy Nicholl took a high ball and charged through the Olney ranks, finally popping the ball to supporting full back Nick Sevier, who went over for an unconverted try. Within less than five minutes right wing Harry Carr was on the scoresheet with another great try, having collected his own chip ahead, this time converted by fly half Roger Sevier. Despite having established a 12 : 0 lead in the first 15 minutes of play Grove had staggeringly been penalised more than a dozen times during that time while Olney had not been penalized once! Following perhaps the fifteenth penalty against Grove, flanker Carl Alder was given a yellow card but despite resulting in a very kickable penalty the Olney attempt at the posts was missed and the score remained. Grove tried to move upfield but suffered three blatantly late tackles before crowd pressure appeared to persuade the referee to award the home side their first penalty. No real advantage was gained from this but centre Jamie Burns was able to start a fine move which resulted in Carr, Nick Sevier and Guy Nicholl all storming up the left wing. Nicholl received and chipped ahead for Nick Sevier to collect and sprint in for his second try, converted by brother Roger, for a 19 : 0 lead. Undaunted Olney stormed back at Grove and despite blatantly knocking on without punishment were awarded another very kickable penalty in front of the posts. Again this was amazingly missed and Alder returned to the field of play to equalize the numbers once again. Olney knocked on from the restart kick but were nevertheless awarded the put in at the resulting scrummage! With emotions now running very high centre Joe Bellinger completely flattened his oncoming opposite number causing him to spill the ball forward for Grove to be rightly awarded a scrummage at last. Nevertheless Grove then turned the ball over but from Olney's kick back to Grove territory Carr collected and stormed back beating several Olney defenders in the process. Getting away with it, Olney were now beginning to live offside to interfere with Grove scrum half Owen Gustafson's play so from the next scrum No. 8 Ben Nicholl broke magnificently from the base to feed Roger Sevier who kicked ahead into space only for the referee to penalize Grove for offside. Despite Grove's attempts to get back into Olney territory the ref continued to penalize the home side until half time was reached, the score still being 19 : 0.
Grove started the second half very strongly with Guy Nicholl and Nick Sevier launching the first attack followed up by a great drive from the Grove pack at the next Olney scrum. Flankers Alder and Simon Peel supported by hooker Steve Dixey were next to smash into Olney and Grove were awarded a rare penalty. From the resultant kick to touch and line out it was skipper and prop James Eckert who drove for the line and looked to be going to score but this was resisted by strong Olney defence until Gustafson sent the ball blindside to Roger Sevier who stormed over in the corner for Grove's bonus point try, which he also converted for a 26 : 0 lead. With the rain now lashing down Grove kept the pressure on with another strong run from Guy Nicholl but this ended with the winger being forced into touch. Nevertheless it was Grove who did move further ahead in the dark with Harry Carr scoring his second of the day for 31 : 0. Olney's heads did not go down and they continued to press Grove. Jimmy Wallbridge came on at hooker for Dixey and Huw Lewis replaced Gustafson at scrum half. Just before the end Olney pushed Grove right back to their try line coming very close to scoring but the attack ended when Wallbridge was alleged to deliberately knock on for which he received a yellow card. Although rightly awarded a penalty, which they attempted to tap and run, this came to nothing and being Olney's last chance the game ended with a well deserved 31 : 0 victory for Grove.
Man of the Match for Grove was Carl Alder.