Newbury III (12) vs. Grove II (26)
Grove end Newbury's long unbeaten run
Grove 2nds ended Newbury 3rds 2½ year unbeaten run on Saturday with a good win at Newbury from a very physical and ill-disciplined match in which the referee had to warn both captains on numerous occasions.
The first 20 minutes saw Grove camped in their own half with very determined defending keeping a lively Newbury side at bay. Olly Highton, returning to his old club for the first time, was at the end of some very robust tackling. Newbury declined a couple of very kickable penalties, opting for lines out instead. Newbury's winger scored their first unconverted try after 25 minutes, their forwards having stolen the ball from a Grove line out. However the Grove forwards were now starting to get into the game with strong runs from props Pat Wiltshire and Jimmy Wallbridge. Moving into Newbury territory they took advantage of Newbury indiscipline and dissent and finally Grove's fly half Phil Kelly broke the defence to score a great try between the posts which he then converted to put Grove 5 : 7 up. From the restart Newbury hit back and following a couple of quickly taken tap penalties their winger breached the Grove defence to score a converted try, taking them back to a 12 : 7 lead. This in turn became the half time score but not before Grove wing Gareth Hudson almost scored following a great break out by Kelly.
At the start of the second half the Grove forwards began to dominate their much bigger counterparts, The Grove line out was now winning good ball, particularly from lock Paul Harpwood. With Wallbridge driving hard and centre Jack Frazier putting in crunching tackles, skipper and centre Ash Lane made a break down the field, supported by Highton who was stopped just short of the line with the ball in hand. This time however Hudson triumphed, taking the ball over for a try between the posts. Kelly's conversion put Grove back in front 12 : 14. Grove's pack now began to use rolling mauls to good effect, driving Newbury back into their own half, resulting in more Newbury indiscipline, their prop receiving a yellow card for alleged punching. More penalties against Newbury followed allowing Grove to again win good line out ball. From one such Frazier received and chipped over the defence to catch his own kick. He then moved the ball to veteran flanker Ady Amies who popped to scrum half Johnny Simmonds who scored Grove's third try under the posts. Kelly converted and Grove were 12 : 21 up with 15 minutes to go. Hard working veteran flanker Mark McIntyre was now substituted by the younger Matty Walsh. Decisively Kelly for Grove took a quick tap from inside his own half, and with the ball then being drilled down the line to touch Grove won the resulting line out. Good loose work from the Grove forwards led to the prop Pat Wiltshire burrowing over the line to score Grove's bonus point try. Although the conversion was missed with little time to go Grove were unassailable at 12 : 26. Although Newbury came back at Grove the visitors were strong in defence and it was they who saw out the game as worthy winners after a very hard fought game.