Drifters (0) vs. Grove (40)
Grove returned to winning ways in style on Saturday, beating Drifters with a fine all round team performance. Grove scored six trys, five converted, with no reply, for a great bonus point win which keeps them in the promotion race.
Both teams opened in lively fashion but a couple of mistakes by Grove meant promising attacks faltered and allowed Drifters to move into Grove territory. Good defensive work by wing Jamie Burns and full back Roger Sevier kept them at bay however and the visitors were able to move back to half way. The Grove forwards were already starting to show signs of dominance in scrums, rucks and mauls, generally diving their opposition backwards, and from one such move hooker Steve Dixey was able to touch down between the posts for the opening score on 17 minutes, Roger Sevier's conversion providing a 0 : 7 scoreline. Drifters momentarily moved back into Grove territory but it was the visiting side that once again showed dominance with particularly fine work by back row man Dave Wells although Grove indiscipline meant too many penalties were being awarded to Drifters. Drifters however seemed to be wasting good possession by constantly taking the ball back to the forwards where they were frankly no match for the Grove boys and so what could have been good attacks never really materialised. Eventually Grove broke out from a period of siege through No. 8 Matt Young who made a great charge upfield to start a superb backs attack, the ball moving through the hands of fly half Dave Maryon, centre Nick Sevier, Roger Sevier and finally wing Harry Carr who was just taken into touch. Although not successful this was an early sign of the Grove backs dangerous attacking speed with ball in hand. Despite this the majority of possession was still definitely with Drifters and once again they moved back into Grove's half but then scrum half Owen Gustafson, centre Joe Bellinger plus Nick Sevier lead a breakout to relieve the pressure. Gustafson, Dixey and Burns then linked well together to maintain the Grove momentum. Following a scrum award to Grove they were able to move right up to the Drifters try line with prop Tim Lane standing out as the charge leader. Grove then rightly declined the opportunity the score from a kickable penalty, opting for a line out instead, and from the following great take and drive lock Lee Wright was able to touch down for Grove's second superb try. Roger Sevier's conversion taking the score to 0 : 14. Unfortunately just before half time Matt Young sustained an accidental blow to the face which left him with a facial fracture and which means he will probably now miss a few of the remaining games. Carl Alder came on as replacement in the back row and Dave Wells moved to No. 8.
Immediately from the restart Grove took the advantage when flanker Simon Peel grabbed the kick ahead and in the process won a scrum for Grove on the opposition 22 metre line. It was then Wells who made a great break supported by Gustafson and Dixey and the pressure was now really on Drifters but some 'too slow' passing meant the Grove backs attacks were frustratingly breaking down. It was however all Grove now and the continuous attacks had to be eventually rewarded, which they were, when Nick Sevier finished off a move involving lock Paul Miles, Dixey, Maryon, Bellinger and Gustafson, touching down in the corner for a 0 : 19 lead. A penalty kick at the posts was next missed by Drifters and Grove came back with a superb 30 metre break by Dave Wells supported by skipper James Eckert, Lee Wright, Miles, Peel, Gustafson and Bellinger but the move came to an end when play was stopped to attend to an injured Drifters player. Pat Wiltshire now made his 1st team debut for Grove substituting for Tim Lane. From the restart Wells again charged for the try line only to be stopped just short but the ball was collected and touched down by Eckert for the bonus point try and Roger Sevier's conversion took Grove out of sight at 0 : 26. Harry Carr lead the next Grove attack with an elusive run past several Drifters defenders, the move ending with a Grove penalty. At this point Grove rejigged their backs line with Roger Sevier moving to fly half and Huw Lewis coming on at full back with Dave Maryon leaving the field. Grove's dominance was now almost total and again Wells and Dixey smashed their way to the host's line with Miles beautifully finishing off with a fine touchdown. Sevier's conversion took Grove to a 0 : 33 lead. The game then had to be stopped for almost 20 minutes when one of the Drifters locks sustained a badly dislocated shoulder, clearly needing a second ambulance visit to the club. Play restarted with a determined Drifters attack but Grove resisted this with good work from Wells and Miles and the visitors came back, launching a very fast, length of the field attack, utilising all of the backs and which ended with Nick Sevier touching down, only for the try to be disallowed as 'held up'! Grove were now territorially in the right position however and it was only a matter of moments before Gustafson fought his way to the line for Grove's sixth try of the day, which with Sevier's successful conversion provided a scoreline of 0 : 40. Drifters heads were not down however and again they struck back strongly at Grove and it was only some very determined defence which kept them from scoring. The pressure was relieved when Carr somehow stole the ball and took play right to the other end of the field with a long kick through. A final big attack came from Grove with Bellinger, Dixey, Wells, Miles, Gustafson, Wright, Alder and both Sevier brothers featuring but following this Dixey had to leave the field with an injury, being replaced by Tim Lane with Wiltshire moving to hooker. Drifters came back strongly, forcing their way back to the Grove try line but despite several lunges at the line the visitors resisted their attacks, determined to keep a clean sheet, which they did thanks to the final whistle being blown.
This was a great comeback team performance by Grove having suffered two successive defeats to Aylesbury and Buckingham and showed just what can be achieved when they use the strength of their forwards and the fast slick pace of their backs in combination to play straightforward orthodox rugby.
Grove team :-
Eckert, Dixey, Lane, Wright, Miles, Peel, Young, Wells, Gustafson, Maryon, Bellinger, N. Sevier, Carr, Burns, R. Sevier
Alder, Wiltshire, Lewis.
Man of the Match - Dave Wells.