Old Otliensians 8, Old Grovians 27

Old Grovians won a fiercely-contested SSE Yorkshire Division Four game played in near gale-force winds yesterday.

The visitors found themselves under pressure from the kick-off after trying to kick a ball clear, only to see it blow over their heads and over the dead-ball line, giving Otliensians a five-metrescrum.

Strong defence from Grovians kept the home team at bay, however, and this was to set the scene for the first 20 minutes.

During this period, Grovians defended as if their lives depended on it in their own 22.

Grovians continuously forced errors from the opposition with some powerful tackling, with Matt Worrall and Chris Blackhall driving the opposition backwards.

It was to Grovians' credit that they kept the hosts out with a combination of strong first-up defence and very good scrambling defence.

During the final 20 minutes of the first half, Grove managed to make inroads into the home half, with the back three of Anthony Griffin, Aaron McGee and Dan Nulty sweeping up well and ensuring any kicks were returned with interest.

One of these runs from Griffin was carried on deep into the Otliensians 22 by the hard-working pack, with Dave Roberts and Dave Foster prominent, and good continuity provided Ricky Hopkinson the opportunity to drive over from close range to put Grovians into the lead.

Other than a penalty, Grovians kept the hosts at bay to enter half-time 5-3 up with the wind in their favour for the second half.

Straight from the kick-off, a set move sprang Nulty free. He was caught just shy of the line but managed to off-load to McGee, who stepped inside the defence for a good team try.

This was soon followed by another try when Matt Worrall got on the end of an overlap to give Grovians some breathing space.

However, Adam Weaving was having difficulty kicking in such bad conditions.

Otliensians refused to give up, and strong running from their pack, with the No 8 catching the eye, drove play back towards the Grovians line.

At this point, injuries started to disrupt the visitors, three injuries to members of the pack coming in quick succession.

However, veteran replacement John Hinchliffe managed to pounce on an Otliensians mistake to score a scrappy but all-important fourth try with 20 minutes to go.

The hosts still refused to go quietly and it was only heroic defence from Grovians that managed to keep them at bay.

The dam eventually burst when the opposition's impressive No 8 squeezed over from five metres with five minutes to go.

However, Grovians refused to let this knock their confidence and took play straight back into home territory, and a well-worked try was finished by Dave Foster after good work from Hinchliffe and Hopkinson. This was one of the best performances of the season for Grovians.

Ben Brown mixed his game well and cleverly used the backs in the first half, and the forwards had a solid scrum and line-out to provide good go-forward ball, with Hopkinson having his best game of the season so far.

Overall it was a good start to 2012,but Grovians know they face a tough test at home to Wetherby next Saturday.