Grove (50) vs. Milton Keynes (24)
Grove get promotion play-off after demolishing 3rd place Milton Keynes.
Grove delivered an emphatic victory over closest rivals Milton Keynes on Saturday. In front of a massive crowd of home supporters they secured 2nd place in the league meaning they will now play Trowbridge from Southern Counties (South) in a one-match play off for promotion to South-West 1 (East), on Saturday 27th April at Cane Lane, Grove, with kick off at 15:00.
The start was perfect for Grove with hooker Steve Dixey collecting MK’s kick off. He slipped the ball to scrum half Owen Gustafson who fed Dave Maryon for the fly half to chip ahead to right wing Harry Carr who caught cleanly and after a good run slipped the ball inside to flanker Dave Wells who in turn fed No.8 Ben Nicholl who delivered the ball to skipper James Eckert for the prop to dive over the line. With full back Roger Sevier’s successful conversion, Grove were 7 : 0 ahead with only 1 minute of the match gone. Milton Keynes came straight back and despite a long clearance kick from Maryon, Grove were faced with the MK winger sprinting at them, out wide, with only Grove’s props Eckert and Tim Lane to beat which he did and the score moved to 7 : 5 after 7 minutes, the conversion being missed. Grove now lost Nicholl temporarily with a bad injury to his finger. It was MK who kept up the pressure and they certainly looked dangerous in attack. With an MK try looking certain Carr pulled off the most amazing ankle tap to save the day but this was short lived as the MK forwards pressured their Grove counterparts. Possession was now predominantly with MK and despite strong defensive work from flanker Carl Alder and locks Paul Miles and Lee Wright it was the highly elusive Dan Pearson on MK’s right wing who skated over the line to put MK in front at 7 : 10, the conversion again being missed. Now Grove had to lift their game and get more possession which they did immediately with neat passing amongst all the backs with forwards supporting superbly to move into MK territory. Nicholl, now returned to the fray, battered his way back into the enemy, ably supported by Lane and Dixey with the ever alert Gustafson sniping at their heels. Winning a penalty line out superbly it was hooker Steve Dixey who crashed over for Grove’s 2nd try and the home side were in front again at 12 : 10, Sevier’s conversion being missed. The tension was now palpable, it being impossible to determine at this stage who was likely to come out on top in this epic encounter. Grove however were in no mood to be underdogs and it was centres Jamie Burns and Joe Bellinger who were now looking strong, feeding Sevier in the line who passed to Carr for the winger to unfortunately step on the sideline before going clear to the try line. Nevertheless from the next scrum it was indeed Carr who collected from a neat blind side move to scamper over for Grove’s third try, this time converted by Sevier, to provide Grove with a very respectable but not yet conclusive, 19 : 10 half time lead.
At the start of the second half Grove did not relinquish the pressure despite tremendous defence by MK and It was Burns who scored next for the hosts, following terrific work by the Grove pack, who demolished their counterparts for the ball to be turned over and fed out to the centre who wasted no time shooting over the line. The conversion was missed but Grove had picked up one of the two points they needed for a certain play off place and the score had moved to 24 : 10.
The MK forwards were now beginning to look a beaten outfit but their backs were still highly dangerous putting in some great runs at Grove. Grove were tackling like wild dogs now and finally breaking from defence it was Carr who went off like a greyhound and, chipping over the last defender’s head, managed to re-collect and touch down for his second and a great try. The conversion was again missed but Grove were now looking like definite winners at 29 : 10.
The Grove pressure was now relentless with Dave Wells bursting through the middle and with a flick to the supporting backs the ball was once again fed to the insatiable Carr who fired through the middle of the field, beating defenders left and right, to touch down for his hat trick try. Sevier’s conversion took Grove to 36 : 10 and it was now just a matter of time before victory was assured.
Grove were however not satisfied and Bellinger and Wells lead to next big attack. The Grove pack were now able to drive their opposite numbers off their own ball in the scrums with ease and it was Ben Nicholl who was driving them on from the back row. With Grove now declining kickable penalties it was Burns who was back on the scoresheet with his second try of the day following a quick tap to him from Gustafson and Sevier’s conversion put Grove out of sight at 43 : 10.
Still not satisfied it was left wing Guy Nicholl who grabbed the next following his own chip and collection to touch down between the posts. Sevier’s conversion providing the half century scoreline of 50 : 10.
With the result now assured Grove brought on all three of their substitutes, i.e. Martyn Walsh for Lane, Pat Wiltshire for Dixey and Huw Lewis for Gustafson. It was Lewis who lead the next attack before being unceremoniously smashed to the ground. Grove were now clearly more relaxed and MK took full advantage with Pearson scampering through the Grove defences to take the score to 50 : 17. There then followed an incredible flurry of penalties to MK, awarded at staccato pace by the referee and it was only going to be a matter of time before they crossed the home side’s line again. Not unexpectedly perhaps it was Pearson who collected the MK bonus point try and with a successful conversion the game ended at 50 : 24 to the great delight of all the Grove players and the superb Grove crowd.
Man of the Match was awarded to Harry Carr.
Grove team :-
Tim Lane, Steve Dixey, James Eckert (Capt), Lee Wright, Paul Miles, Dave Wells, Ben Nicholl, Carl Alder, Owen Gustafson, Dave Maryon, Jamie Burns, Joe Bellinger, Guy Nicholl, harry Carr, Roger Sevier.
Huw Lewis, Martyn Walsh, Pat Wiltshire.
BE SURE TO BE AT CANE LANE NEXT SATURDAY AT 3:00PM FOR THE PROMOTION PLAY OFF MATCH!!!!!!