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Old Grovians go seven points clear at the top
6:38pm Sunday 17th February 2013 in Sport
Knaresborough 7 Old Grovians 48
If ever the importance of looking no further than your next opponent was highlighted it was in this weekend’s results.
While many would have expected Old Grovians to go to bottom side, Knaresborough and win, the league leaders spent all week talking about the danger this fixture posed coming on the back of such an impressive performance against Harrogate Pythons seven days earlier.
Conditions were perfect for open, running rugby on a day that felt more like the middle of spring than mid-February and Old Grovians made an impressive start – wheeling a Knaresborough scrum to win posession and, from the resulting set piece on Knaresborough’s five-metre line, scrum-half Andre Lesur dived over for the game’s opening try.
Ryan Sharrocks – recalled to the side at full-back following last weekend’s hat-trick for the 2nd team – hit the line at pace before touching down after slick handling stretched Knaresborough’s defence for the visitors’ second try. Soon it was 19-0 when Tom Dalton made an immediate impact off the bench with a bulldozing run into the 22, sucking in tacklers and leaving Anthony Griffin to exploit the space left out wide.
To their credit, Knaresborough weren’t playing like a team who’d won just twice in the league this season. They committed men to the breakdown, competed for the ball and in their forwards particularly carried a constant threat. A threat which was realised two minutes before half-time when they executed a perfect lineout move with a catch and drive from Old Grovians’ 22 before bursting through the defensive line to score.
The visitors’ response was immediate and clinical. Securing lineout ball, once again the back line created space out wide and Joe Sowden went over to secure a bonus point and send Old Grovians into the break with a 24-7 lead.
Knaresborough began the 2nd half with greater intent, once again hittting the ruck hard, looking to disrupt and secure ball but it was Old Grovians who once again showed a ruthless and clinical finishing ability. Sharrocks’ turn of speed was again to the fore as he scored from 50 metres and then came a real collector’s item. Prop Jonathan Oakes, who’d threatened to steam roll the Pythons last week, this time rumbled his way over the line against Knaresborough – chugging forward from 20m out with would-be tacklers hanging off him for his first Old Grovians try.
In the final 20 minutes, 2 Knaresborough players spent time in the sin bin as the visitors further increased their tally. Ben MaGee continues to impress and added his name to the score sheet with a smartly taken try in the corner and Griffin rounded off the scoring with his 2nd of the game after Sharrocks’ break put him in the clear to cross the line under the posts.
For the second week running there was good news of results elsewhere as it emerged Ossett had caused a stunning upset to win 12-10 at Harrogate. It all means that Old Grovians now have a seven-point lead at the top of the table with just five matches left.