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Grovians are happy in defeat
12:26pm Thursday 22nd August 2013 in Sport
Old Grovians XV 12, Ilkley XV 36
Although Ilkley, buoyed by the inclusion of several first-teamers, dominated the middle period of the game, scoring four tries, Old Grovians’ director of rugby Martin Whitcombe was encouraged by what he saw in their opening pre-season game at Elm Tree Farm on Tuesday.
It was a big step up in class for his side – who won all but one of their games on the way to the SSE Yorkshire Division Four title last season – but Old Grovians were in charge for the opening 20 minutes, back-rower Sam Robinson scoring a tryinside two minutes as the hosts gained a 7-0 lead.
Ilkley hit back with a try of their own on 26 minutes and took the lead with the last play of the first half to hold a 12-7 advantage at the break.
Whitcombe said: “It's all positive. I think the new, young guys who played in the team were exceptional. The players played up to their potential – I think we’ve got a lot to look forward to.”
The ‘young guys’ he spoke of are a product of the Woodhouse Grove School production line and won't be over exposed to first-team action this season but it gives the club a hugely positive outlook for the future.
In the second half, Ilkley took charge. However, far from disheartened, Whitcombe was very pleased with Old Grovians response; He said: "There was a middle period when basically the game was won.
“They dominated and we couldn’t get the ball and they showed us a lot of good rugby lessons but to our guys’ credit their heads didn’t go down – they carried on competing and probably the last 15 minutes you’d say we were the stronger side."
Old Grovians began pre-season training at the end of June and their speed around the park was impressive. They got another reward when lock forward Jack Baker forced his way over the line for their second try – the last of the match –and Whitcombe is upbeat about his side's prospects as they prepare for their first season in Yorkshire Three.
He added: “We’ve got better players, the players we’ve had have got used to playing a system and we've been able to improve the system, so rugby-wise and playing-wise, we're in a better position than we were this time last year."
Ilkley’s try scorers were Paul Petchey (2), Nick Lockyer, John Raper, JH Johnson, and Simon Smith. Tom Collard kicked two conversions and Johnson one.
Ilkley’s head of rugby Rhys Morgan said: “It was a good run out and gave us the chance to see some of our younger players in action.”
Old Grovians round off their pre-season campaign at Pocklington on Saturday, August 31.
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