Grove 5 Chipping Norton 0 -- Saturday 20 March 2010
A close fought affair
Grove ran out winners in a closely fought contest at Cane Lane on Saturday, with Grove captain Ben Nicholl’s try the difference between the two sides.
Grove started with lots of purpose, with lock James Kerr destroying his opposite number with a thundering tackle from the kick off. With Grove on the front foot for the first quarter of the match and creating chances, it looked like the match might be over by half time, but Chippy weathered the storm and came back into the game after Roger Sevier had missed a relatively simple penalty attempt for the lead. When the away side managed to win the ball they kept it for long periods, but with the Grove pack in a belligerent mood, could not muscle their way into scoring positions. Chippy had the upper hand at several scrums in the half, Ben Nicholl doing very well to extract the ball from a retreating scrum but unable to get past the tackles of Chippy openside Matt Dawson. With Adam Smith also missing a shot at goal, the scores remained level until a fantastic break from Guy Nicholl created an overlap and with brother Ben on hand to apply the finishing touch and Roger Sevier missing the conversion meant Grove went into the break with a 5-0 lead.
The second half started well for Chippy, with their pack forcing a number of turnovers early in the half, but as Grove settled back into their stride, they created a great chance form a scrum, with scrum half Nick Hayes running through a gaping hole in the Chippy defence. With only the full back to beat and support from Nick Sevier and Gareth Hudson either side, the referee inexplicably stopped play with the front rows squaring up to each other some 40 yards back. The resultant restart was given as a scrum to Grove, but they quite rightly felt aggrieved with the decision to stop play in the first place. Miles and North replaced the hard working pair of Chapman and Kerr, and, with Edd Church moving to the back row, Grove started to look more energetic than Chippy in open play, and only some indifferent decision making from the Grove players stopped them from scoring again. Peel replaced Lane to give the back line a different dimension, and with both sides attacking where they could to try and secure the result, the game was open to either side.
With the clock running down and Chippy chasing the game, they won a scrum on the Grove line, and with the ascendancy they had for most of the game in the set piece felt they could force a pushover try. The Grove front row chose this moment to make their presence felt, and with the Chippy front row buckling on impact, Grove won the ball back and cleared their lines. The referee signalled the end of the game, to the relief of the supporters and players, but Grove felt they should have won the game by more, and Chippy had a chance to win right at the end unjustly.
T Eltham, Church, G Eltham, Kerr, Chapman, Fredericks, G Nicholl, B Nicholl, Hayes, R Sevier, Hudson, Burns, N Sevierm Harrington, Lane
Reps: North, Miles, Peel
Try – B Nicholl