RUGBY: Grove 17 Devizes 21
DEVIZES bounced back from their disappointing defeat at Witney as Luke Rapson’s try secured a South West One East victory in Oxfordshire Having lost on the last three occasions to their opponents, Devizes started with a bang, helped by a strong wind blowing disagonally across the pitch.
Flanker Craig Bryant won a penalty and fly-half Rory Brown kicked it to put the visitors on the board.
Grove defied the conditions to hit back and scored the first try when a long punt upfield took a wicked bounce that deceived Rapson and scrum half Joe Chivers was sent in for the score.
Devizes, with James Gaiger, Chris Lewis and Tom Reed carrying well, continued to attack, while their scrummage began to wear the hosts down.
With Grove pinned back, Bryant and Mark Warburton combined to send James Last over for his second try of the season.
With Chivers in the sin-bin, Grove regained the lead when wing Guy Nicholl finished off several phases and they then battered the Devizes line before skipepr Tom Collins kicked clear.
Brown landed another penalty before half time and Devizes went into that break with the lead as the scrum pushed Grove back and James Gaiger picked up to bundle over for a 16-10 half-time lead.
The second half started poorly for the visitors, Bryant being sent to the sin-bin and, with the weather worsening, second row Damon Murphy followed him to reduce the Saddlebacks to 13 men.
Grove inevitably smashed over after an overlap through full back Huw Lewis, Roger Sevier adding the conversion to take his side into the lead by a point.
With the rain battering down, back came Devizes, centre Mark Carter spilling the slippery ball after an interception before a series of breaks took them upfield.
With Collins and then Lewis Paget adjudged to have been held up over the line but the referee lost patience with Grove’s offending and Chivers received his second yellow card to send them down to 14 permanently.
Finally, Devizes got the breakthrough as the ball was played through hands to Rapson to go over in the corner and the visitors kept the pressure up for the last few minutes to close out victory.
REACTION TO DEVIZES VICTORY, PLUS MORE RUGBY REPORTS, REACTION & PICTURES IN THURSDAY'S GAZETTE & HERALD