Grove (35) vs. Cheltenham (17)
Grove take their time but gain a deserved bonus point win!
Grove's 1st team, devoid of a number of regular players, took their time but eventually pulled away from Cheltenham to win their 2nd game in South West 1 (East) this season collecting a bonus point for scoring 4 trys.
The game started briskly for Grove with the home side enjoying total possession for fully 7 minutes during which time Cheltenham hardly touched the ball. Sadly Grove could not turn the pressure into a try despite several thrusts at the line. Finally a penalty was awarded and full back Roger Sevier duly obliged with his kick at goal to put Grove 3 : 0 up. From the restart both sides enjoyed exchanges of possession and for Grove No. 8 Rory Gratwohl and prop Tim Lane stood out in the loose play for their aggressive charges. Finally the Cheltenham full back was able to attempt a penalty kick at goal but his attempt went well wide. Grove’s failure to capitalise on the majority of possession and a surfeit of penalty awards was clearly increasing the confidence of the Cheltenham team which had looked fairly ‘lack lustre’ up to this point. Eventually however Grove raised their game and following a long penalty kick to touch and successful ensuing line out it was centre Joe Bellinger who opened up the defence with a great run finally popping the ball to fellow centre Nick Sevier who sprinted into the corner for the game’s first try. The conversion was missed but Grove were 8 : 0 in front after 30 minutes. Cheltenham came straight back at Grove and for the first time began to look dangerous but it was Grove who came close to scoring again when flanker Dave Wells had a terrific solo run at the line only to be stopped inches short by a tremendous Cheltenham tackle. Again Cheltenham came back and finally were awarded a penalty 5 metres from the Grove try line from which lock Richard Haire also emerged with a yellow card. With numbers advantage in the forwards the Cheltenham pack had no trouble driving over the line and Cheltenham were back in it at 8 : 5, that becoming the half time score.
The second half started with Cheltenham enjoying most of the possession and pressure and they were duly rewarded with a try after a successful line out and drive to the line. With the conversion missed Cheltenham were now the unlikely leaders at 8 : 10. This situation did not last long however for Grove were awarded a penalty and Roger Sevier struck the ball beautifully to restore Grove’s lead at 11 : 10. Again the Cheltenham forwards attacked the Grove try line but this time could not break through and Grove escaped with a penalty to relieve the pressure. With a Cheltenham player now receiving a yellow card Grove visibly moved into the ascendancy and with the home team winning yet another penalty, Roger Sevier extended the lead to 14 : 10 with his long range kick. From this point on Grove changed gear and began to play with the flair and excitement the home fans love. Grove’s new winger Tom Andrews then showed a bit of magic. Trapping a high ball with his foot and getting the ball to spin into his hands in one movement, he began a tremendous backs move, the ball being spun through the hands to Roger Sevier who having spotted Harry Carr out wide, put up a monster kick for the winger to run onto. Not needing a second invitation the flying winger gathered the high ball in one take, handed off a chasing defender and sprinted in between the posts to make his team mate’s conversion a formality. Grove were now looking far more confident with the score at 21 : 10 and 25 minutes of the second half gone. Tim Lane and Rory Gratwohl again looked tremendous in the loose each charging into the Cheltenham defence with real purpose. Bellinger had another great run and almost put Carr in again only for the move to be stopped at the last moment. Undaunted, Cheltenham hit back and looked to be going to score from a solo run except for a try saving tackle by the Grove full back. Scrum half Huw Lewis and hooker Jimmy Wallbridge were now replaced by Dave Johnson and Ben Wilkinson respectively with the former moving to fly half while Owen Gustafson moved back to scrum half. Gustafson and lock Lee Wright lead the next Grove attack, ably supported by skipper and prop James Eckert who finished the move by crashing over for Grove’s third try, Sevier’s conversion seemingly putting Grove out of sight at 28 : 10. Grove replaced Tom Andrews with Tom Woodward. Cheltenham came back strongly however and benefitted massively from what happened next. Cheltenham’s third try was bizarrely gifted by Grove when the entire team home team stopped playing after they all believed they had witnessed a massive forward pass by a Cheltenham player. The referee however either missed it or did not consider it to be forward and the Cheltenham winger strolled in with the ball, totally unopposed, to touch down for 28 : 17, the conversion being successful. Grove can only blame themselves for this because they transgressed a basic rule by not “playing to the whistle”. Annoyed, Grove came back immediately and purposefully, spinning the ball through the back’s hands until Roger Sevier, coming into the line, put through a superb grubber kick for Carr to once again run onto. Collecting cleanly, Carr was over in the corner for his second and Grove’s bonus point try and with the successful conversion the game was over at 35 : 17.
Grove team : -
James Eckert (Capt), Jimmy Wallbridge, Tim Lane, Lee right, Richard Haire, Dave Wells, Rory Gratwohl, Simon Peel, Huw Lewis, Owen Gustafson, Harry Carr, Joe Bellinger, Nick Sevier, Tom Andrews, Roger Sevier.
Ben Wilkinson, Dave Johnson, Tom Woodward.
Scorers for Grove : Nick Sevier (try), Harry Carr (2 x trys), James Eckert (try), Roger Sevier (3 x conversions + 3 x penalties).