1st XV grind out league win at Carrick
With a strong swirling wind at Carrick, Grosvenor started with the wind advantage and used the conditions prudently playing the territory game and using strong forward runners. Following a previous failed effort, Matty Little converted a penalty to give Grosvenor a 3-0 lead. Grosvenor spent the rest of the half encamped in Carrick’s 22 and barring a Carrick intercept – following which Carrick’s centre ran the length of the pitch only to be tackled short by Little – the Stags line was never troubled. At the end of the half Grosvenor had a scrum on the Carrick 5 metre line which was powering inexorably towards a try. To the bemusement of all Stags the referee let a Carrick hand pinch the ball from the scrum and a Grosvenor try proved elusive.
The second half commenced with some trepidation for Grosvenor who having had the backing of the strong wind in the first period hadn’t really capitalised. The second half was notable for a forward performance. Kicking into the stiff breeze wasn’t really an option so Grosvenor kept the ball and then just kept the ball some more! Carrick had a penalty attempt from half, which edged just to the left, maintaining Grosvenor’s slender lead. In the dying seconds of the game Carrick put a magnificent punt deep into Grosvenor territory and Grosvenor were forced to play the ball into touch. There was time on the clock and Carrick had the throw into the lineout on Grosvenor’s 5 metre line. The Carrick maul was strongly defended and they were awarded a scrum. The scrum had been pressurised all day and Grosvenor got a good shove on. The ball was distributed hastily from a retreating scrum and Grosvenor managed to turn over possession in the middle of the park. The ball was kicked into touch, much to the relief of Grosvenor players and alicadoos alike. 3-0 victory for Grosvenor.
Grosvenor showed real maturity and resolve in seeing this game out in the second half. The elements meant attacking play would be at a premium for the Stags; Grosvenor realised this and managed the game with aplomb. The only negative was that Grosvenor were unable to make greater hay of the wind advantage in the first half, however Carrick are a determined side and Grosvenor were made to work exceptionally hard, even for the miniscule points tally amassed.
An excellent result for Grosvenor, however certainly not an encounter for the fair weather spectator.
Man of the Match – Matty Little has a shout considering he scored the only points of the match, however the award goes to the entire pack who were dominant when they needed to be and played the perfect game into the wind in the second half.
Jug Watch – Alicadoos and players were treated lavishly by Carrick. President Eddie Briggs has had an extra hole put in his belt. 10/10
Physio watch – Imogen was sporting an au naturale nails look this week. She also had an unusual interpretation of what was left and what was right – confusing players with suspected injuries. There was an insightful comment directed at Cartmill when he emerged from a melee: ‘Your heads cut’. This was evident fact sometime ago!
3rds brave in defeat at Derry
The 3rds left the bright sunshine of Belfast behind them and arrived at a wet and very windy Judges Road in the UK City of Culture.
Our hosts opted to play with the elements in their favour but it was Grosvenor who started strongest with some good driving play by the forwards and some neat handling in the backs. Unfortunately they could not get get a foothold in the opposition 22 to allow them to get some valuable points on the board. The defence had been strong but in a lapse after 15 minutes the big Derry pack were allowed to run through some weak first up tackling and score in the corner. 5-0. Grosvenor came back with some great counter attacks from Jonny Dixon at fullback and Ski in the centre, sniping breaks by Smut at scrum half and rumbustious running from Mikey, Kenny and Karl Todd up front. With 30 minutes gone Grosvenor could be pleased with their efforts and perhaps were thinking of turning round with only a five point deficit. But all that changed dramatically in a disappointing ten minute spell before half-time. The big Derry forwards started to get the upper hand and conjured up two well worked tries in two minutes to extend their lead to 19 points. Grosvenor got points on the board with a penalty from Smut but in the last minute the Derry fullback set off on a mazy run out of defence, put in a speculative chip which bounced beautifully for him to gather and score a fine individual try. HT 26-3
The one thing about Grosvenor 3rds is the character in the side and despite having a mountain to climb, and losing prop Jarlath injured, they came out firing on all cylinders in the second half. Jonny Greer kicked intelligently and gave them some great attacking positions which they accepted. Mikey Morris gathered a loose ball from a line out and crashed over for a great try. 26-8. Shortly after Grosvenor spread the ball wide and winger Andrew Rooney scored a great try in the corner. 26-13. Derry were visibly rattled and soon lost their scrum half with a yellow card. But Grosvenor did not capitalise and instead some sloppiness crept in to their game, most notably a brief but highly contagious outbreak of kicking loose balls on the ground rather than diving to secure posession. As a result they missed the opportunnity to get back in to the game and again a few lapses in first up tackling, together with some poor decision making, allowed Derry to close the game out with another well worked try from their forwards. Jonny added a consolation penalty to leave the final score 36-16.
A disappointing result but there were many positive aspects to Grosvenor’s game and importantly the heads never went down at any time during the 80 minutes.
Jug Watch – excellent hospitality as always from City of Derry with a couple of jugs waiting on Grosvenor when they hit the bar and a superb feed of spag bol and crusty bread 10/10