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Old Grovians edged out in thrilling derby
Old Modernians 22, Old Grovians 19
This absorbing SSE Yorkshire Division Three derby between sides who were keen to play open, attacking rugby went down to the last play of the game.
Old Grovians will feel they let victory slip through their fingers, while Old Modernians will feel luck favoured them when it mattered most. However, both seemed to feel that the referee gave a below-par performance.
Too often he struggled to keep up with the pace of this game and consequently was found hopelessly out of position when required to make important decisions.
The home side started the better, their forwards showing intensity and pace at the breakdown which led to them spending much of the opening half-hour camped inside Old Grovians' 22.
It took just three minutes for Old Modernians' blind-side flanker to cross the try line and, although a mixture of stout defending and some bemusing referee decisions then frustrated the hosts, the did add a penalty to make it 8-0 after 20 minutes.
Adam Weaving was unusually errant with a penalty from close range two minutes later but Old Grovians, with the substantial slope in their favour, began to work their way back into the game.
They were given a numerical advantage on 35 minutes when Old Modernians' fly half was harshly sent to the sin bin, and they took full advantage.
Hooker Matt Worrall won the ball against the head, centre Anthony Griffin made a wonderfully incisive break through the heart of Old Modernians defence and found flanker Dave Foster in support to score the try.
Worse was to follow for the home side as fly half Weaving showed good vision with a quickly-taken penalty to crash over the line and convert his own try in stoppage time, Old Grovians going into the interval 14-8 ahead, despite being on the back foot for the most part.
The visitors were playing better rugby now and were enjoying territorial advantage in the second half, but it was Old Modernians' turn to impress defensively.
Old Grovians will point to several moments when they might feel the hosts pushed the legal boundaries but, to their credit, they held firm and scored a try of their own. An impressive forward effort from a close-range line-out was converted and Old Modernians edged ahead.
By now supporters from both sides were thoroughly captivated by what they were seeing and it was soon the travelling support that were celebrating again as Old Grovians broke out of their own half.
Winger Joe Sowden, making his seasonal debut, showed a superb turn of pace down the left touchline to draw the covering defender and supply Dean Hogg with a try-scoring pass to restore a lead which they held until the final play of the game.
With a four-point advantage, there seemed little danger as Old Modernians had the ball on halfway and Old Grovians' drifting defence pushed play towards the touchline but a moment of brilliance opened them up.
Old Modernians' outside centre seeing the full back was in the line chipped the ball over the top and then raced through to gather. Although he appeared to lose the ball as he attempted to slide over the try-line, the referee - who was 40 metres back and in no position to judge - awarded the try to send the home side into raptures and celebrate a truly dramatic win.
It was a fitting finale to what was an extremely competitive encounter but one which left Old Grovians wondering just exactly how they'd contrived to lose a game they'd put themselves in pole position to win. A losing bonus point was little consolation.
Next Saturday, Old Grovians play their first home game in Yorkshire Three when Skipton visit Elm Tree Farm.
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