Whilst only winning twice away from home all year, Grove have now managed to beat all three of the top sides in the division on their own patch. It is true that over half of last week’s squad were either injured or unavailable, but this was not a bad Reading team. There were debuts for; Leighton Park schoolmaster Peter Bulteel
in the centre, former first team favourite Martin Richmond
at full back, and Rhinos’ sponsor Steven Lane
up front. There were also recalls for; the grand old man of Rhino rugby Dave Parish
, Phil White
against his old side, and Brummie Allan Smith
on the wing.
The Grove side was quite different from the one beaten 85-0 at Holme Park back in January. A number of their players were far too good to be playing at this level, in particular their fly-half who tore Reading to shreds all afternoon, and who we were to find out later is actually one of their first XV’s scrum halves, but is not selected higher due to inability to make training sessions on a regular basis. However, it is fair to say that the major reason for this defeat was the match official, who had played for Grove in the earlier fixture. At least he had the honesty to admit to this fact before the game, his only redeeming act. It is hard to fathom how one side can be penalised so many times in one game, whilst the opposition got away with murder all afternoon. I think that the assessor would have had his work cut out after the match.
The first three of Grove’s eleven tries came in the opening 20 minutes, although credit to the Reading defence for forcing two to be scored out wide (and I do mean wide, as the pitch was almost as wide as it was long). The one conversion, coming from a tap penalty fifteen metres out, that was taken whilst the referee was explaining to a number of the visitors what he had given the penalty for, and although he didn’t see the tap he still allowed the try to stand.
Reading got their only try on 30 minutes, when a typical Rob Lynch
drive set up Bulteel for a debut try, unfortunately stand in skipper Jerry Downes
drifted the conversion wide. Grove responded late in the half with a fourth try, which was converted from under the posts.
The second half was almost one-way traffic as the home side ran in seven more unanswered tries, all bar one being converted. It was symptomatic of Reading’s day that the second of these was a telegraphed pass from Grove old boy White, which was run back fully 70 metres, although there was more than just a hint of offside.
Whilst Grove were good value for their win, the scoreline more than flattered, indeed if they hadn’t been penalised sp often near the hosts’ try line, they would surely have added to their total. It is to their credit that the Rhinos continued to battle to the very end, and there were some very sore and tired bodies coming off the field.
The man of the match award went to Peter Bulteel
, who as well as scoring the only try, showed up well with some great tackling and powerful breaks through the midfield. He will be a useful addition to the Vets squad.
This was the only game to take place in the divison. there were home walkovers for Bracknell IV (Tadley III), Harwell II (Reading Abbey III) and Oxford Harlequins IV (High Wycombe III), and an away walkover for Windsor III (Bicester III).
Reading take a break next week, before there is a split in the ranks, with half of the squad departing for a five day tour to Co. Mayo where they will play two games against Castlebar and Westport. Whilst those left behind, will fulfil the final league fixture against Harwell II at Holme Park (14/04/12).