Grove (44) vs. Buckingham (24)
Buckingham bogey blown away.
Grove blew away the Buckingham bogey with an emphatic bonus point win at Cane Lane on Saturday. Until this result, Grove had narrowly lost every match played against Buckingham since February 2007 and so regarded them as something of a 'bogey' team. That myth is now behind them.
Grove started well with a converted penalty kick for a 3 : 0 lead from full back Roger Sevier after 6 minutes. From the restart Grove's No 8 Rory Gratwohl made good ground before the ball was lost and Buckingham were able to eradicate Grove's territorial gain. Buckingham then had a penalty but no score resulted. The Grove backs replied with some slick play to get back into Buckingham territory but a mistake allowed Buckingham to fly hack clear of danger. At the same time, with a massive overlap created, Buckingham used their backs to go the full length of the field to score in the corner. The near impossible conversion kick, given the strong wind against, was missed but Buckingham were in front at 3 : 5 after some 15 minutes.
Immediately following the restart Roger Sevier regained the lead for Grove with a fine penalty kick. Again Grove attacked strongly through flanker Ben Law and he was unlucky to have the ball knocked from his grasp as he went for the line. Play returned to halfway but Grove pushed back for a penalty line out. Although the line out was lost Grove lock Richard Haire, acting as scrum half after a turn over, gathered and with a superb solo effort side-stepped his way to the line for Grove's first try. Roger Sevier's conversion moving the scoreline to 13 : 5. Next Haire emerged again with some terrific tackling and it was the same player who then stole the ball to feed hooker Steve Dixey who in turn moved it to Ben Law who beautifully fed Harry Carr for the right winger to sprint over and score Grove's 2nd try. This again became a 7 pointer with Sevier's touch line conversion and Grove were deservedly in front by 20 : 5. It was Haire who then gathered the Buckingham restart kick to begin another Grove onslaught, following a penalty award to Grove. Hooker Steve Dixey, lock Paul Miles and then Ben Law all linked well with scrum half Owen Gustafson for the Grove juggernaut to again move into Buckingham territory and it was 'man of the moment' Haire who following an attack of his own then delivered a super pass to Guy Nicholl for the right wing to beat four or five defenders before touching down for Grove's 3rd try. Sevier's so far faultless display of place kicking continued and the score moved to 27 : 5 and Grove appeared to be out of sight with some 30 minutes gone. Flanker Simon Peel and Paul Miles lead the next Grove attack but the ball was turned over and Buckingham came back into the Grove half. Although Grove reclaimed the ball and cleared with a big wind assisted kick, Buckingham stormed back again, taking the ball right to Grove's try line for a quickly tapped penalty which resulted in a try for the visitors. The conversion was unsuccessful so the score moved to 27 : 10 but given the reversal of the conditions to come in the second half Grove could not really feel safe yet. Buckingham pushed hard again from the restart with their back row looking particularly impressive but Grove regained the ball and Roger Sevier used the wind beautifully to kick and take play to 5 metres from the Buckingham line for a penalty line out. The ball was moved across field for centre Nick Sevier to penetrate with a strong run, finally getting the ball to Nicholl for the winger to score his second touchdown and Grove's bonus point try. Again the conversion was successful and Grove were now 34 : 10 up. The ubiquitous Richard Haire was next to launch into Buckingham but although he passed well play ended with a Grove knock-on. Again Grove regained possession after a Buckingham free kick and now the Grove backs showed their pedigree with fly half Dave Johnson feeding Nick Sevier who, despite receiving a suspiciously high tackle, got the ball to fellow centre Joe Bellinger who made good ground before Nick Sevier gathered again. Play ended however with a penalty to Buckingham. At this point prop Cash Chivers had to leave the field with a back injury to be replaced by the evergreen Jimmy Wallbridge and half time was called.
Grove started the second half with a strong united team attack against the wind, slope and sun, deep into Buckingham territory but with everyone committed to the attack, Buckingham stole and hoofed a monster wind assisted kick behind all of the Grove team for a Grove line out. Although the line out was won and Grove attacked, the ball was again turned over and Buckingham's attack with a massive overlap meant a visitor's try looked inevitable. Grove's full back had other ideas however and it was Roger Sevier who delivered a try saving ankle tap tackle. This in turn lead to a penalty award to Grove and Grove were temporarily out of danger. Grove then moved away strongly through No. 8 Rory Gratwohl and Haire but their move ended with an obstruction being called and Buckingham had a penalty. This came to nothing and it was Grove who went on the hunt again. Gustafson fed Wallbridge for the prop to have a good run before the ball was moved wide to Nick Sevier who made ground with a long run up the wing before the ball was lost and kicked back to Grove's defending full back who, dummying a kick, beat his man and fed the ever present Haire who in turn fed Bellinger for the ball to be moved to Nicholl and the wing scampered over to gain his hat trick try in the corner. The touchline conversion attempt, against the strong prevailing wind, failed but Grove were now truly out of sight at 39 : 10 with some 25 minutes of play remaining. Matt Young now replaced Ben Law at flank. Buckingham came back strongly and following a great team effort again looked certain to score between the Grove posts but again Roger Sevier saved the day with a massive crunching tackle on the oncoming ball carrier. Undaunted, Buckingham regrouped and came again, this time with one of their players beating the remaining defence and crossing the Grove line for what had to be a clear try. However something truly bizarre then happened. Although all the attacker had to do was touch the ball down it seemed he didn't and with the referee waiting to blow his whistle an amazing piece of quick thinking by Guy Nicholl saw him single-handedly driving the Buckingham ball carrier fully 25 metres from the try line to prevent the score while everyone else, thinking a try had been awarded, just stood and watched in amazement! Grove collectively breathed a huge sigh of relief and play re-commenced with a scrummage.
Joe Chivers now replaced Owen Gustafson at scrum half but Buckingham were now very determined in their attacks. Young, Wallbridge and Dixey were all particularly instrumental in resisting the pressure and eventually Grove broke out following slick passing between Chivers and Johnson which lead to a determined run from Nick Sevier who fed supporting players Young and Gratwohl before Buckingham were awarded a scrum. This was won by Buckingham and was followed by a free kick and Grove were under pressure again. Ben Law returned to replace Dave Johnson and Grove re-jigged with Law going to centre, Nick Sevier going to full back and Roger Sevier moving to stand off. Young temporarily halted the next Buckingham attack but their determination won through as their forwards crashed over the Grove line for an undisputed try between the posts. The successful conversion moved the score to 39 : 17.
Grove attacked strongly with Paul Miles twice smashing into the opposition with force. More of the same was delivered by Gratwohl and Wallbridge but Buckingham had clearly not given up the ghost yet. Haire emerged with yet another strong thrust at Buckingham and now the Grove pack were in the ascendancy moving purposely forward before a great one-handed overhead pass from Wallbridge started a move involving Chivers, Bellinger, Haire, Nick Sevier and finally Guy Nicholl. The ball however spun loose but the advancing Roger Sevier picked up and flicked inside for Carr, who had come off his wing, to deliver a mazy run to the left hand side corner and his second great try of the day. Again the touchline conversion was missed but Grove were 44 : 17 ahead. Buckingham had the last word however when, following a series of very strong 'pick and go' attacks they were able to touch down for their own bonus point try. The game then ended shortly afterwards.
This was a great avenging win by Grove particularly following the cup match debacle at Banbury mid-week. Not only was the Buckingham jinx destroyed but Grove delivered a very confident and competent display to move up a place in the league table. The team was superbly lead by skipper and prop James Eckert and there were notable performances from many of the Grove players, not least Richard Haire who was absolutely outstanding.
It should be noted that Grove 2nd team also had an emphatic 52 : 39 home win over High Wycombe 2nds with centre Tom Clipsham scoring 5 trys!
Grove 3rds could not play due to a waterlogged pitch.