Grove (30) vs Windsor (24)
Grove persistence provides a great win against previously unbeaten league leaders!
A somewhat depleted Grove side pulled off an astonishing win against previously unbeaten and double bonus point league leaders Windsor at Cane Lane on Saturday. Without regular props Tim Lane (working), Martyn Walsh (injured) and centres Tom Clipsham and Joe Bellinger (both injured) Grove trailed behind their opponents for most of the game but thanks to poor Windsor decision making and indiscipline, great defensive play and slick attacking by Grove and the unerring boot of full back Roger Sevier they were always in touch, moving in front and pulling away at the end.
Windsor started at a cracking pace after Grove knocked on from the kick off and their opponents were able to run in the softest of trys with total ease. With the conversion missed Windsor were 0 : 5 up with less than a minute gone. Grove came back immediately and following a high tackle by Windsor and subsequent penalty, Roger Sevier slotted from the touchline for 3 : 5. Windsor fluffed their kick off and Grove elected to go for a scrum which they then lost to the overwhelming power of the Windsor shove. Two further penalties came Grove’s way both of which allowed Grove into Windsor territory then following a Grove attack, another penalty was awarded which Sevier duly popped over to give Grove a 6 : 5 lead after just ten minutes. Windsor came back strongly and following a penalty for ‘crossing’ the visitors slotted to regain the lead at 6 : 8, with 15 minutes gone. Their lead was extended to 6 : 11 after a penalty was awarded following a massive crunching tackle by centre Ben Nicholl on the opposing fly half which was deemed illegal by the referee. Sadly for Windsor their player had to leave the field, unable to continue in the match. A second substitution then followed for Windsor. Grove were now looking far more determined with strong work in the loose by No. 8 Rory Gratwohl and flanker Dave Wells in particular. Eventually Grove looked like scoring when a clever chip from fly half Dave Maryon almost put wing Harry Carr into the corner but the ball was dropped at the last moment. Unfortunately Grove then lost hooker Steve Dixey to a shoulder injury, replaced by Ben Wilkinson. Nevertheless Grove kept the pressure on until penalty advantage was signalled. Maryon’s attempted drop goal missed but Sevier made no mistake with the penalty kick which kept Grove in touch at 9 : 11, with 35 minutes gone. Windsor now pressured Grove strongly, moving well into Grove territory and keeping possession throughout. Tactically however Windsor were starting to go wrong. Although they were developing overlaps in the backs they were not using them and Grove were temporarily able to get out of trouble when they were finally awarded a penalty for a Windsor player holding the ball on the ground. Nevertheless Windsor hit back and despite some individually unsuccessful attempts to score by their forwards their scrum half was eventually able to reach over the line and touch down, despite a despairing tackle by Dave Wells. The conversion took Windsor into a 9 : 18 lead but Grove attacked strongly again and another penalty award allowed Sevier to convert for a half time score of 12 : 18.
Grove started the second half in lively fashion but both sides were making handling mistakes. Harry Carr and skipper prop James Eckert launched into Windsor, ably supported by Gratwohl, lock Lee Wright and Gustafson until Grove were awarded another penalty, this time on the Windsor 22 metre line. Roger Sevier stepped up and planted his fifth successive penalty to close the gap to 15 : 18. Advantage now switched back to Windsor with their forwards generally overpowering the Grove pack but ‘white line fever’ took over again as rather than use overlaps in the backs, individual forwards continually attempted to drive over the line, being thwarted by superb Grove defence. Finally Grove cleared their lines and play moved back to half way. At this stage flanker Simon Peel was replaced by Matt Young who was making his first playing appearance this season. Individual greed again seemed to dominate Windsor’s play and yet again it afforded them nothing in terms of try scoring but eventually a penalty was awarded which allowed them to increase their lead to 15 : 21. This pattern of play continued from Windsor to the obvious and growing frustration of some of the Windsor backs. Eventually however Grove were deemed to have deliberately knocked on and Windsor looked to move out of sight following the successful penalty kick, which took the score to 15 : 24 with perhaps 15 minutes to go. Grove’s ‘never say die’ spirit now came to the fore and with a spin out to ‘greyhound’ Harry Carr from centre Ben Nicholl the flying wing was in for a great try under the posts. Sevier’s sixth successful kick suddenly meant Grove were right back in the game at 22 : 24. Grove were now looking much stronger with both Sevier brothers and wing Guy Nicholl storming into Windsor. A very promising attack was then stopped in its tracks when a blatant high tackle took Wells out and, very lucky not to receive a yellow card, Windsor were confronted with another penalty which Roger Sevier gleefully smashed between the sticks from distance to put Grove back in front at 25 : 24 with about 5 minutes of the game left. Windsor tried to hit back but were clearly becoming rattled and for the first time in the match their forwards were beginning to look weary. Grove were by contrast looking more and more alive and a big attack came from Ben Nicholl running a great line through the visitor’s defence, superbly supported by Gustafson. Wells and Carr carried this on with Gratwohl and centre Nick Sevier joining the fray. Finding themselves 5 metres from the Windsor line Matt Young suddenly emerged with the ball from a quickly taken free kick and touched down for what appeared, from close range, to be a beautiful try, except to the referee who adjudged the ball to have been knocked on in the act of touching down! Maintaining their composure Grove stayed strong and from the ensuing Windsor scrum, Gustafson stole and dived over to the obvious delight of the entire team who all rushed in with congratulations. With Grove now 30 : 24 in front Roger Sevier had his only disappointment of the day when his very high touchline conversion attempt was adjudged to have failed, even though the Windsor touch judge raised his flag. With virtually no time left Grove now just had to hang on which they did to achieve a tremendous victory against all the odds.