Grove (15) vs Reading (13)
Grove recover from a blistering Reading start to pull off a much needed but hard fought win.
Reading raced into a 0 : 13 lead in the first quarter of this game thanks to a three point penalty kick followed by two quickly taken but unconverted tries. From then on however Grove generally took control although finding it difficult to penetrate the solid Reading defences. The Grove breakthrough came when scrum half Owen Gustafson fooled the defence, firing a neat inside pass to ubiquitous winger Guy Nicholl who dotted down between the posts. Fly half Harry Carr converted to take the score to 7 : 13. Further good play from No. 8 Joe Bellinger kept Grove in the ascendancy and full back Henry Day was unlucky not to score following strong play from Carr and Nicholl, play ending when the ball was spilled forwards. There was no further scoring before half time.
Grove kept up the pressure at the start of the second half with good work from lock Rory Gratwohl and centre Brendon White and it was Day who this time gathered and, supported all the way by wing Tom Wells, beat the defence in a great run to the line to bring Grove back to just a 1 point deficit at 12 : 13, Carr’s conversion attempt missing the mark.
Bellinger and prop Cash Chilvers lead Grove’s next attack but this was thwarted by a penalty award to Reading. Grove hit back through a deceptive run from Carr but his long pass to Wells was unable to be gathered by the wing man otherwise Grove would have almost definitely taken the lead there and then.
Jimmy Wallbridge now replaced the injured Cash Chilvers and Grove received a penalty which, from quite some distance, Carr put over to indeed give Grove the lead at 15 : 13. Joe Chilvers now came on as a replacement while Carr left the field hobbling.
Despite receiving numerous penalty awards, three of which had resulted in attempts at the posts, Grove could not increase their score and despite immense forwards pressure which took their pack to the Reading try line, the game finally ended with just the two point margin separating the teams. Before the end hooker Steve Dixey for Grove had received a yellow card.
The game was completed in virtual darkness when the referee incredibly played some 20 minutes of stoppage time during which Grove must have feared a repeat of last week’s result when their 7 point lead was overtaken by Newbury during a similar and equally inexplicable long period of extra time.