Olney (10) vs. Grove (31)
Grove keep on track for promotion by defeating Olney in a 'must win' fixture.
Grove kept their promotion hopes alive with a convincing win against a very good Olney side that had only lost one previous game at home this season.
The game didn’t get off to a good start for Grove with back row Simon Peel having to leave the pitch within the first two minutes of the game with a dislocated elbow. Carl Alder came on to replace Peel who was now on his way to the hospital.
The tempo of the game was very fast with perfect conditions for a running game and pressure from Grove was rewarded on 5 minutes, with Guy Nicholl making a break down the wing and scoring next to the posts for Groves first try, this was converted by Roger Sevier (Score 0-7). Olney came back with some good attacking play and only brave defence from Owen Gustafson and Guy Nicholl held their player up over the line to stop a certain try.
The Grove pack seemed to have the upper hand in the scrums and were able to turn over the ball and allow the Grove no8 Ben Nicholl to turn defence into attack with a great solo run up to the half way line, with supporting players both sides it looked like a possible end to end try was on the cards, but unfortunately a knock on saw the Grove attack breakdown in the Olney half.
On 10 minutes a further penetrating run from Centre Nick Sevier saw him tackled in the Olney 22, with the Olney defenders going off their feet at the breakdown, a penalty was awarded to Grove and converted by Roger Sevier, making the score 0-10. Grove looked dangerous on the attack with some good breaks by scrum half Owen Gustafson, Hooker Steve Dixey and Back row Dave Wells. Olney were struggling to keep Grove out, and a further penalty was awarded to Grove on 15 minutes which again was converted by Sevier (0-13).
The game was in no way one sided and Olney put some good phases together probing into the Grove 22, being rewarded themselves with a penalty on 25 minutes after a Grove tackler was penalised for not rolling away (3-13).
Grove were able to increase their score on 27 minutes with a great interception from winger Guy Nicholl who scored his second try out wide, the conversion was missed and the score was now (3-18). Olney were still applying pressure to Grove, some quick hands to their fast 11 was rewarded with a well worked try which was converted on 30 minutes. So at half time the score was Olney 10- Grove 18.
Grove started the second half well with good breaks form Ben Nicholl, Lee Wright and Pat Wiltshire and solid defence from Tim Lane, Tom Clipsham and Harry Carr. On 44 minutes another break from no 8 Ben Nicholl saw Grove receive another penalty just outside the Olney 22 for killing the ball, this was converted by Roger Sevier (10-21). Grove now attacking well with only good defence from Olney keeping them out, from a Grove lineout Ben Nicholl again made a break into the Olney 22 passing to Hooker Steve Dixey who was denied a try by a brave tackle from the Olney full back.
The game went through a messy stage with Grove creating plenty of chances but not being able to exploit the opportunities with far too many handling errors. They were also getting penalised at the breakdown by the referee whose patience ran out on 53 minutes with Prop Pat Wiltshire being yellow carded for going off his feet. With Grove down to 14 men and only having 7 in the pack they were still dominating the scrums and were awarded a further penalty on 60 minutes with Olney front Row standing up, this was converted by Sevier (10-24).
Grove were now back up to 15 and applying pressure in the Olney half when Ben Nicholl charged an Olney clearance kick down and was able to collect the ball and run in for a great converted try under the posts (10-31) 67 minutes.
On 70 minutes Grove were attacking from their own half when Fly half Dave Maryon was high tackled by the Olney no 8, but was still able to get the ball off to Winger Harry Carr who had a clear run in, unfortunately a further altercation with Grove fly half and Olney number 8 after the ball had gone made the referee blow his whistle and deny Grove their bonus point try. Both players were yellow carded and the Grove back line had to be re aligned with Huw Lewis going to Scrum half and Owen Gustafson going to 10. Grove were now desperate to try get the bonus point but were unable to increase their score over the final few minutes.
Final Score: Olney 10 – Grove 31
Grove Team: James Eckert (capt), Steve Dixey, Tim Lane, Lee Wright, Paul Miles, Dave Wells, Simon Peel, Ben Nicholl, Owen Gustafson, Dave Maryon, Guy Nicholl, Tom Clipsham, Nick Sevier, Harry Carr, Roger Sevier.
Replacements: Pat Wiltshire, Carl Alder, Huw Lewis
Man of the Match: Ben Nicholl