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Adam Weaving delivers knockout blow for Old Grovians
Old Grovians 23, Bramley Phoenix 17
This SSE Yorkshire Division Three derby was a brutal encounter, resembling a boxing match more than a game of rugby.
However, it was Old Grovians who delivered the knockout blow, a late Adam Weaving penalty securing just their second win this season.
It was a win that came at a huge price though. Influential forward Matt Worrall will have an operation later this week after breaking his leg, and Charles Medley was also forced to leave the game early with a leg injury.
Meanwhile, lock Tom Dalton left the game with blood pouring from above his right eye following some "strong" defending in the second half by the visitors, and hooker Pat Guthrie was also sidelined late on with a nasty gash on his forehead as Bramley battled to defend their line.
Old Grovians had the better of the opening half, leading 20-5 at the break thanks to tries from Anthony Griffin, after a well-judged crossfield kick by scrum half Ben Brown, and Dom Copsey.
The latter's try was particularly impressive - the result of good defensive work at the breakdown to turn over possession, followed by a lightning-quick counter-attack in which Copsey streaked away to touch down and open up a three-score lead after Bramley had scored a five-pointer of their own.
As the injuries began to mount in the second half though, the game became increasingly fractured.
Bramley's desire to push the laws of the game to the limits was a tactic which allowed them to exploit the holes now opening in Old Grovians' depleted defence and it got them back into the game.
The Bramley No 8 exploited a two-man overlap to reduce the deficit to ten points, and with 20 minutes to play that became just three as the outside centre scooted over the line to score.
As the tension rose, so too did the industry off the ball. Prop John Oakes finished the game with blood oozing from his mouth as Bramley's desperation to find one more score led to play that could be best described as borderline legal.
A third successful Weaving penalty though two minutes from time proved enough to stifle the comeback but at the full-time whistle there were few cheers.
Bruised, battered (and in at least one case broken) Old Grovians players left the field with a much- needed win and their director of rugby Martin Whitcombe, struggling to contain his emotions, said: "It was good to get a win in difficult circumstances. It was hard fought, it was extremely frustrating.
"To get three players off, two with head injuries and one with a broken leg . . . it's a tough day at the office.
"We've won a game of rugby on a Saturday afternoon, and that wasn't a game of rugby!"
The result moves Old Grovians up to tenth in the table and leaves Bramley Phoenix cut four points adrift at the foot of Yorkshire Three.
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