Grove (63) vs. Reading Abbey (6)
Grove put themselves in line for promotion with a great win over Reading Abbey.
Grove avenged their close defeat by Reading Abbey at the start of the season in some style on Saturday, running in 11 trys! In so doing, and with Milton Keynes surprisingly losing at home to Olney, Grove now have to either win or draw their last game vs. MK next Saturday to achieve a promotion play off against Trowbridge from Southern Counties (South). This of course assumes Buckingham do not lose their final game at Thatcham in which case Grove will be playing for the league leadership and automatic promotion for a win.
Throughout this season Grove's momentum as a powerful team has been escalating and they started in fine style on Saturday. In appalling weather conditions, No. 8 Ben Nicholl ran in the first two trys of the day. Not to be outdone, younger brother Guy on the left wing ran in the next three to extend his personal tally this year to 33 trys, a feat only ever bested by his Dad Duncan, many years ago.
The first try came after 9 minutes following a 5 metre scrum from which the back row man picked up and charged over for the touchdown. The second followed some 7 minutes later following strong work from the Grove pack when they drove over the line to enable a classic No. 8 touchdown. Hooker Steve Dixey was outstanding for Grove but it was Abbey who were next on the scoresheet with a short range penalty which they converted for 10 : 3. Grove came straight back however and it was the Guy Nicholl, the flying winger, who collected fly half Dave Maryon's clever chip ahead to touch down in the corner. The score moved to 17 : 3 following full back Roger Sevier's first successful conversion. Despite Abbey converting another penalty for 17 : 6 Grove came back with a move virtually identical to the previous one with Guy Nicholl again collecting Maryon's chip ahead and he again touched down successfully. Sevier gained the extras for 24 : 6 then with half time looming, Grove launched another major attack involving virtually the whole team handling the ball but ending yet again with Maryon supplying the final pass to Guy Nicholl who cheerfully scored his hat trick try. The half time score therefore stood at 29 : 6 the conversion attempt having failed.
With no improvement in the weather conditions it was Abbey who started the brighter in the second half. Despite this Grove finally turned the ball over and it was Maryon himself this time who was able to touch down to put Grove out of sight. Sevier's conversion taking the score to 36 : 6. The Grove forwards were now relentless in attack and with speed of scrum half Owen Gustafson's passes behind the pack it was not going to be long before they were on the scoresheet again. And so it came to be when centre Jamie Burns, seeing a gap in the Abbey defences, took advantage and shot through for a fine try. Roger Sevier, clearly having trouble with the greasy ball and soaking underfoot conditions, uncharacteristically missed the conversion but the score was now 41 : 6. Pat Wiltshire now replaced Tim Lane at prop and despite the penalty count against Grove beginning to grow alarmingly it was right wing Harry Carr who turned the tide and shot over for Grove's next try. The conversion attempt rebounded off the upright but the score was now 46 : 6 and Grove's victory was assured. Lock Lee Wright and Wiltshire were prominent in Grove's next attack and with ball finally being passed to centre Nick Sevier it was he who evaded the remaining defenders to touch down between the posts enabling brother Roger's conversion to take the score to 53 : 6. Huw Lewis now came on for Guy Nicholl and Martyn Walsh replaced Steve Dixey at hooker. The penalty count against Grove continued to rise despite many of the wrongdoings seeming to be coming from Abbey then following a high tackle on Maryon, Ben Nicholl reacted and received a yellow card. The high tackle went unpunished but Abbey could not take advantage despite the resultant penalty award. Player numbers were then equalised when the Abbey No. 8 received a yellow card for some skulduggery on the ground. Grove stormed back with again good line out work from Lee Wright and pressure from Walsh. Grove were awarded a free kick close to the Abbey line which Gustafson tapped to himself and with characteristic speed dived over for Grove's tenth try, the score moving to 58 : 6. Abbey tried to come back but two spectacular tackles from Huw Lewis stopped them in their tracks and it was Grove who regained the ascendancy with Nick Sevier going over in the corner for his second try of the day and the score moved to its final position of 63 : 6.
The Grove forwards, led by captain James Eckert, had been magnificent in this game despite being physically smaller than their counterparts and the backs despite a number of handling fumbles due to the conditions were tremendous in their support and finishing. A very satisfying day for Grove.
Grove team :-
Tim Lane, Steve Dixey, James Eckert, Lee Wright, Paul Miles, Dave Wells, Ben Nicholl, Carl Alder, Owen Gustafson, Dave Maryon, Jamie Burns, Nick Sevier, Guy Nicholl, Harry Carr, Roger Sevier.
Martyn Walsh, Pat Wiltshire, Huw Lewis.