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Ben Brown is hero and villain as Old Grovians' record goes
Old Grovians 13, Rotherham Phoenix 20
Rotherham didn’t just claim an SSE Yorkshire Division Three victory, they became the first visiting side to beat Old Grovians since their move to Elm Tree Farm nine months ago!
It was a thoroughly deserved win, yet they very nearly let it slip after failing to convert an opening hour of total dominance into enough points.
Ahead inside three minutes, thanks to a penalty from their fly half, who enjoyed a faultless afternoon with the boot, Rotherham's larger pack asserted their authority in the early exchanges, making a complete mess of Old Grovians’ scrum.
With hooker Matt Worrall unable to find his range at the line-out, Rotherham regularly turned over ball and spent much of the first half camped inside Old Grovians territory.
An Adam Weaving penalty drew the sides level but the home cause was made all the more difficult when Worrall was sent to the sin bin for what was deemed aggressive intent when trying to reclaim the ball.
Without the ball for long periods and a man down, Old Grovians’ defence remained resolute but just as it appeared they would hold out, Rotherham managed to break through. The game’s opening try was the result of an impressive forward effort from a line-out 30 metres out.
A second try just before half-time gave Rotherham a 14-point lead at the break, and this time their backs came to the fore as the fly half hoisted a towering ball which the Grovians defence was unable to collect and the winger scored in the corner.
Old Grovians needed to up their game in the second half and, although another Weaving penalty reduced the deficit to 17-6, Rotherham continued to steal Old Grovians’ line-out ball and it was still one-way traffic.
However, when Phoenix’s winger crossed for what would have been their third try, instead of grounding the ball he moved towards the posts, Ben Brown tackling man and ball, which spilled from the visitors’ grasp.
As Rotherham tired to slow things down, they had a man sin-binned, Old Grovians making them pay with a Gareth Phillips try.
Winger Joe Sowden was denied by a scrambling defence, Dean Hogg was tackled with a two-man overlap outside him and Brown dropped a try-scoring pass as Grovians pushed for the win.
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