Unbeaten run comes to an end
Promotion rivals Halifax travelled to promotion rivals Old Grovians in confident mood after a run of 14 games unbeaten which started with the 2 teams drawing 13-13 way back in October.
The Ovenden Park side knew that they needed to keep up the intensity from the last 2 games but it was the home side who came out of the blocks much quicker as they were hitting the rucks with much more enthusiasm.
Grovians with Anthony Cadman at 10 showed their intent and were playing an expansive game which was duly awarded with a penalty for offside to take the lead through the prolific Adam Weaving 3-0.
However the away team weathered the storm as they showed the resiliance that has proved to be successfull over the last 5 and a half months. The pack were beginning to make inroads with Smith and Hill to the fore. This released the backs playing up the slope and after several breaks by Knapping, Ryan and Fletcher the Halifax side were camped on the line. With the referee playing advantage for a collapsed maul the ball came loose and Curtis burrowed over to take the lead which was converted by Turner 3-7.
Grovians began to come back into the game as it approached half time and a pen for offside from a knock on 40m out was converted by Weaving to take the score to 6-7. Almost immediately Grove were camped in the Halifax 22 and another pen for a tackle offence was converted to take the lead 9-7. As the half came to the close Halifax had another pen for a collapsed maul which Knapping converted from near the touchline to take a 9-10 lead. This ploy was proving effective as penalties were conceded but no sanctions were made.
The half time teamtalk by Craig Emmerson and Nick O'Connor was all about discipline as they were now playing down the slope.
However again Grovians came out as their season hinged on getting a result and their left winger Aaron McGee showed great pace taking a ball well inside his own half and beat 8 players with a weaving run to take the lead again 16-9.
Fax again had a number of mauls collapsed illegally which was then finally dealt with by the referee when he sinbinned the Grovians lock forward 20 mins from time.
Fletcher had a couple of breaks during a period this period of pressure and it seemed it would only be a matter of time before Halifax scored again. However Grovians defence was excellent and they held on. A couple of timely interceptions proved to be the turning point and as a result the home side scored the game breaker to what proved to be the winning score 21-10.
The game was marred a few mins from the end when a great break down the blindside from Perrett was halted by the winger as he tackled the former captain into touch. From this the Grovians no.5 ran in and threw a punch which then started a brawl with players on both sides. After what seemed a lifetime both the Grove 5 and Perrett were sent off which put brought a sour end to what proved to be the hardest game of the season for both clubs.
This game was the 3rd cup final for Halifax against their promotion rivals and proved to be 1 game too many as the commitment was there in abundance but the killer touch was lacking as a number of chances went begging. Grove were worthy winners and both clubs now rely on other results to go their way now to clinch that 2nd spot.