Buckingham (28) vs. Grove (17)
Grove lose a tough match at Buckingham.
Grove disappointed in this game which was targeted as a much wanted win. With Buckingham racing away to a big lead in the first half the visitors were forced to play ‘catch up’ in the second half and although they did score more points than their hosts in this period they had left themselves too much to do and ended the match the losers without even so much as a bonus point.
The game started brightly for Grove who attacked from the outset with scrum half Owen Gustafson and centre Joe Bellinger in particular looking lively. What then appeared to be a deliberate knock on by Buckingham resulted in a scrum to the hosts! Nevertheless Grove held and then drove their opposite numbers backwards eventually turning the Buckingham scrum through 90⁰ only for a penalty to be awarded against them! Thankfully the kick at goal was missed and the scores remained level. Prop Tim Lane, playing in his first game for Grove this season, now looked very dangerous in the loose with some great attacking thrusts. Grove continued to attack with Gustafson, fly half Nick Sevier and centre Ben Nicholl all making ground. Locks Lee Wright and Paul Miles now joined the attack, ably supported by full back Roger Sevier. Then, completely against the run of play, a pass from Roger Sevier to wing Guy Nicholl, which would probably have seen him go all the way, was cleverly intercepted by the Buckingham scrum half who, with no defence left to beat, sprinted all the way from his own 10 metre line to score an unconverted try. Nine minutes of the game had passed. Undaunted, Grove came back again with a big attack from Ben Nicholl, supported by Miles and Lane and Grove were definitely looking like the team in the ascendancy but then Buckingham suddenly regained possession and attacked hard and with an alleged high tackle going in they then extended their lead to 8 : 0 from the resulting penalty kick. Grove came back strongly with Lane fly hacking to the try line with Ben Nicholl in hot pursuit but Buckingham escaped with a kick to touch. The resultant line out saw Grove take the ball and drive to the try line but the Buckingham No.8 was then penalised, seemingly for going offside and was given a yellow card. With a one man advantage Grove elected to take the scrum and drove powerfully to the try line with No. 8 Rory Gratwohl controlling the ball beautifully with his feet. With the Buckingham pack disintegrating and a Grove try looking to be a certainty the referee inexplicably blew up for a ‘turned scrum’. This incredible decision gave the advantage back to Buckingham and they escaped and moved back into Grove territory gaining another kickable penalty, again for a high tackle. The kick at goal was however missed and the score remained at 8 : 0. Following the 22 metre drop out Grove were awarded a penalty on half way which Roger Sevier smashed between the sticks to bring the score to 8 : 3 with 25 minutes gone. Buckingham now came back very strongly with a series of high kicks but Grove resisted and won another penalty out wide on the Buckingham 10 metre line. With a kick to touch probably being the better option Grove elected to go for goal but this time the kick flew wide. Grove continued to push and a speculative kick from Nick Sevier for Harry Carr to run onto unfortunately went into touch. Buckingham hit back and won a penalty in front of the posts to give themselves a 11 : 3 lead. With half time looming a missed tackle by Grove allowed Buckingham to go over in the corner for 18 : 3, the difficult conversion being successful. Developing an overlap Buckingham then ran in another in the corner and again the successful conversion took the half time score to 25 : 3 and Grove had a mountain to climb. Richard Haire substituted for Simon Peel.
Grove started the second half strongly with Nick Sevier and flanker Matt Young pushing forward. Lee Wright made a strong run but Buckingham were defending well. Gratwohl made a great rush at the line and the ball was popped up for flanker Richard Haire to score. Roger Sevier’s conversion took the score to 25 : 10. Grove kept the pressure on through several phases of play and then Grove were shocked when they were strangely penalised for an unseen offence and the kickable penalty was converted to take the score to 28 : 10. Grove kept up the pressure but were constantly pegged back by high kicks to the full back. Nevertheless it was the visitors who struck next when following a quick tap penalty by Gustafson the ball was fed to Nick Sevier who charged for the line only to be ankle-tapped as he looked like scoring but he popped the ball to Carr who had no trouble touching down near the posts. Roger Sevier’s conversion took the score to 28 : 17 and perhaps now Grove had a chance but time was fast running out. Grove forced their way back into Buckingham territory but Buckingham continuously kicked and ran their way out of danger. Ben Wilkinson substituted for the injured Tim Lane. Grove were now under pressure but Gratwohl forced his way upfield but to no avail. Buckingham’s ‘smother’ defence was working well and for Grove it was like ‘running through treacle’. Grove were now getting desperate with various individuals all trying to break through on their own. Play was now very scrappy from both sides. Buckingham unsuccessfully attempted a long range penalty shot at goal from their own half. With full time approaching Haire received a yellow card for Grove. Shortly after this the game ended.