Windsor (37) vs. Grove (19)
Grove go down to Windsor but not without a fight.
Although deserved winners Windsor were somewhat flattered by the final scoreline after a sterling display of resistance by Grove.
For the first 30 minutes of the game Grove had to constantly withstand the equivalent of a 15 man battering ram attack as Windsor used all their considerable might and muscle to try to blow their opponents away. Much to Grove’s credit their resistance was such that far from being able to build an uncatchable lead the hosts actually found themselves losing 3 : 6 at half time.
Grove started well, attacking Windsor from the kick off but it wasn’t long before Windsor came back with a vengeance following a poor kick out of hand by Grove. This was followed up by a Windsor penalty in front of the Grove posts for offside and the hosts were 3 : 0 up after 6 minutes. Then the massive Windsor physical onslaught began but great tackling particularly from No. 8 Joe Bellinger, Simon Peel, Paul Miles and Roger Sevier kept them at bay until another kickable penalty was awarded. Thankfully for Grove this sailed wide.
Play restarted in much the same vein with huge physical attacks from Windsor and dogged defence by Grove, this time particularly from flanker Matt Young, Simon Peel and scrum half Joe Chivers.
With the ball reclaimed Grove launched an attack of their own and it was back row men Bellinger, Young and Ben Law who looked strong in the attack, making advances into the Windsor half for the first time.
Following good evasive work from new Grove centre Henry Day, Matt Young burst away on his own but this only resulted in Windsor’s third penalty and Grove were back in their own half again. Grove tried to escape but Windsor were easily gathering Grove’s clearance kicks and coming back strongly each time. Finally Grove got some respite with their first penalty award but Sevier’s kick didn’t find touch, allowing Windsor to pile on the pressure once more. This was pretty relentless but Grove’s defences stood firm until finally Grove were able to push into the Windsor half. Unfortunately there then followed a fracas after Grove’s captain James Eckert was clearly seen to receive a punch to the back of the head. The ending result was a penalty to Grove and a yellow card for the Windsor No. 6. This enabled Grove to cross the Windsor 22 metre line for the first time following the penalty kick to touch. With the penalty line out won prop Cash Chivers drove hard at the Windsor try line but the ball was recycled out to the Grove backs. Play was then suddenly halted by the referee who gave a stern lecture to the Windsor hooker before awarding a penalty to Grove. Roger Sevier had no trouble slotting this and so despite all of the previous massive Windsor pressure Grove were back on level terms at 3 : 3 with 36 minutes gone.
Grove now looked to attack again and a wonderful piece of sleight of hand by Henry Day sent Harry Carr off, only for the winger to be pushed into touch. Grove were however back in Windsor territory and further strong attacks from Carr and Law lead to another Grove penalty, converted by Sevier for 3 points and Windsor were looking a bit rattled.
Grove continued to press with Joe Chivers and Carr launching another 2 man attack but the ball went dead and Windsor escaped with a 22 metre drop out. This went all the way to full back Huw Lewis who attacked well with speed, passing the ball to Carr who shot away for a try but play was called back for a knock-on that only the referee had seen!
Undaunted Grove kept the pressure on with first Roger then Nick Sevier followed by wing Guy Nicholl and Joe Bellinger scything into the Windsor ranks. This promising play was however stopped when the ball rebounded off Matt Young’s head and a knock-on was wrongly called. This allowed Windsor to get back into Grove’s half but dogged resistance from the Chivers’ brothers and Nick Sevier in particular stopped them in their tracks and Day cleared to half way with a monster kick.
Windsor came back hard but hooker Steve Dixey prevented them from scoring and somewhat unbelievably Grove had a 3 : 6 half time lead.
Grove started the second half brightly but another wayward kick from hand allowed Windsor to hit back until a visitors penalty provided some Grove relief. The massive Windsor pack was however now beginning to get the upper hand over their counterparts and they moved back upfield finally touching down between the posts after a couple of missed tackles by Grove. The easy conversion put Windsor back into a 6 : 10 lead with 5 minutes of the half over.
Now Windsor had the bit between their teeth and came back quickly with a strong attack and another try. Sadly this resulted in a second brawl before the conversion, which was missed, could be taken. Windsor 15, Grove 6.
Play immediately then moved into Windsor territory and with another penalty award Roger Sevier reduced the deficit to 15 : 9. This was almost immediately nullified when Dixey played the ball in a clearly offside position, following a Grove knock on and the score moved to 18 : 9. Jimmy Wallbridge substituted for Cash Chivers.
Windsor then got the better of Grove’s pack with a good rolling maul which ended with another Windsor penalty. This time they went to the corner for the line-out which proved to be the correct decision as they then caught and drove through the middle of the Grove line out to touch down for a third try. With the conversion missed the score moved to 23 : 9.
The grubbered restart kick was gathered by the Windsor scrum half who took off on a solo attack on the blind side and with Grove’s full back stumbling over before being able to tackle he was in for the easiest of try’s between the posts. The successful conversion sealed Grove’s fate and Windsor were now out of sight at 30 : 9 also having gained a bonus point.
Grove were nevertheless still defiant with tremendous tackles flying in from Young, Peel and Roger Sevier and then with a typical piece of Carr magic the wing intercepted and was away for a great Grove try against the run of play, Sevier’s conversion making it 30 : 16.
Henry Day now sent up a very high kick which was dropped by the Windsor defender and it was Day who gathered and fed lock Paul Miles who looked like he might make it to the line but with Grove inside the Windsor 22 metre area the ball was deliberately knocked on by Windsor and a Grove penalty, but no yellow card (!) for Windsor resulted. The kickable penalty was turned down in favour of a kick to the corner for the line out. This was won by Grove and Wallbridge almost made it to the line before play was immediately stopped for an apparent head injury to a Windsor player. Following this another penalty was awarded to Grove and again the kick was put into the corner for the line out but this time Windsor stole and the ball was cleared to half way by Windsor. Grove were however awarded another penalty which Sevier this time aimed at the sticks and with a superb strike added three points to Grove’s tally. Windsor 30, Grove 19.
Grove were not finished and it was Guy Nicholl who next set off on a great run to the try line only to be hauled back by his shirt tail. Had his pass found the supporting Day the centre would most definitely have scored but under pressure it did not go to hand. Windsor escaped with a penalty followed by a strong run by their backs to the Grove line. This, despite a strongly suspected obstruction on the way, resulted in a fifth try for the hosts and the conversion provided the final score of 37 : 19 to the hosts.
Grove still did not give up and Henry Day in particular looked good with some deft passing out of the back of his hands. A tap penalty was taken by Cash Chivers who fed Joe Bellinger to try for a breakthrough but this in turn saw the ball spun back across the field to Carr. Grove forced a penalty line out 5 metres from the Windsor line but a Grove knock on ended the advantage.
Just before the end Martyn Walsh (Prop) and Conor Bant (Centre) substituted for Jimmy Wallbridge and Ben Law respectively but to no avail and the game was over.