Trowbridge (28) vs. Grove (26)
Grove narrowly miss out on their first league victory this season going down to the conversion of a late home team try at Trowbridge on Saturday.
Grove started in lively fashion but Harry Carr playing in the unusual position of fly half, missed a penalty attempt at the posts. He made up for this immediately however with a beautiful, jinking run which saw him touch down between the sticks. He then converted to give Grove a 0 : 7 lead.
The Grove pressure was kept on but Trowbridge always managed to kick themselves out of trouble. Grove indecision on who was to catch one of these high kicks lead to the Trowbridge outside centre stealing nicely and after a quick interchange of passes with his inside centre went over for a well earned try. Trowbridge’s fly half converted to level the scores at 7 : 7.
Grove’s centre Henry Day then had a great run supported by Kiwi debutante winger Brendon White but no score resulted. Trowbridge fought back and were rewarded with a penalty in front of the Grove posts which was converted by the No.10 for a 10 : 7 home side lead after just 15 minutes of play.
Trowbridge continued to attack with a series of very effective high kicks while Grove preferred to use running attacks from their backs and this tactic was rewarded when Guy Nicholl beat his man on the right wing and went over a superb try after a lengthy run. Carr converted to give back the lead to Grove at 10 : 14.
Trowbridge hit back strongly and advanced to the Grove try line after a good run from their No. 8. His opposite number Rory Gratwohl then gathered and made good ground with a strong run out of defence. This was to no avail however as Trowbridge were awarded another penalty which their excellent kicker had no trouble converting to close the gap to 13 : 14.
Grove pushed back to the Trowbridge try line but despite several individual thrusts from their forwards could not breach the home defence. White was then unlucky when, with the line at his mercy after a very slick set of passes out to his wing, the ball was spilled forward to let Trowbridge off the hook.
The end to end play continued with Trowbridge attacking superbly and again a penalty award in front of the posts was converted to put them back in front at 16 : 14, which became the half time score.
With the second half continuing in the same vein as the first, Trowbridge pushed towards the Grove line and tested the referee with several of their players going offside although not being punished.
Finally Grove broke out of danger with a very fast attack from their own try line which involved all of their backs. Guy Nicholl finished it off with a beautiful run and chip over the last defender to catch the ball himself and touch down between the posts for his second try and a regained lead for Grove at 16 : 19. Carr’s conversion took it to 16 : 21.
Grove’s elation was short lived however because another attacking high kick by Trowbridge was again met with indecision by two Grove defenders, leading to a Trowbridge line out. This was quickly taken and with Grove caught napping the Trowbridge right wing shot over for the second Trowbridge touchdown of the day. Surprisingly the conversion was missed but the score had moved to 21 : 21 and Trowbridge were right back in it. Grove hit back immediately with fabulous running and passing between scrum half Owen Gustafson, Carr, Day and finally Nicholl who crashed over for his third and Grove’s bonus point try. Sadly Carr’s conversion attempt was missed but the score was now 21 : 26 in Grove’s favour.
From the kick off terrific handling interchanges between locks Simon Peel and Paul Miles and props James Eckert and Cash Chilvers allowed Gustafson to make ground but honours really were even as both sides attacked and in turn defended with relish.
With time running out Trowbridge put in a very strong forwards charge to push Grove back to their own line. Despite desperate defence by Grove it was the Trowbridge scrum half who eventually wriggled over to score Trowbridge’s third try which evened the score again at 26 : 26. The crucial conversion was then beautifully slotted and the home side were in front 28 : 26 with virtually no time left on the clock.
Grove pushed straight back from the kick off and were almost immediately rewarded with a penalty, which if kicked successfully would win them the game but sadly Carr’s attempt was just wide of the upright and a thrilling game, played in a great spirit was over.
Despite losing the game Grove very deservedly came away with two bonus points to move themselves off the bottom of the table.
The opinions expressed in this report are my own and do not necessarily reflect the way others may have seen or interpreted this match.