It was always going to be a daunting task against League leaders and All Ireland Junior Cup winners, Clogher Valley, but with 8 unavailabilities and a patchwork backline, the task was made more difficult. It was easy to acknowledge the success of CV this season as they play controlled rugby at a fast pace and unlike the CV teams of yesteryear, they are not a set piece dominated side, moving the ball quickly and accurately, to the edges. This sort of game is difficult to defend and so it proved at Gibson Park. Grosvenor initially withstood the onslaught with some stout defending but as our line got narrower, space was created on the outside. It would be unfair to unduly criticise a defensive line, which had never played together before. Defensive systems do not come together overnight and if you come up against a quality attacking outfit, you are in serious difficulties. A fast recycle saw CV score wide out on the left and this try was expertly converted ,giving the visitors a 7-0 lead.
This try was followed by a long period of attack inside the visitors 22 but handling errors and poor decision making prohibited Grosvenor scoring the try their pressure undoubtedly deserved. As so often happens in these situations, the opposition came back and as a Grosvenor defender shot out of the defensive line, another try was scored out wide and was also converted, 14-0. Grosvenor came back again, showing great resolve and as some attempts were spurned, they eventually took one of their many chances and Ben Davies drove over for a try converted by Adam Skelton. 14-7. A high tackle from the kick off resulted in a yellow card but CV increased their lead with an unconverted try out wide yet again. At this stage Grosvenor lost Timmy Emerson to injury and an originally patchwork backline was further depleted at this point. However, Grosvenor held out to the half time whistle. Grosvenor then had a yellow card for a high tackle and Clogher extended their lead and claimed their desired bonus point with a walk in for their left wing as space was created for him with the driving of their inside backs. The conversion failed and the score was 24-7 to the visitors. With the Grosvenor defence in disarray, the left wing scored again for CV's fifth try. 29-7. At this stage one might have thought that the Grosvenor heads might drop, but that never happened, which is great credit to all involved. Their tenacity was rewarded when Chris Jennings scored an unconverted try. 29-12. A delicately placed crosskick saw the CV winger score their sixth try, 34-12. From a possession and territory point of view, this score possibly flattered the visitors but the difference was that they took a high percentage of their chances whilst the home team didn't. Grosvenor's only target was to try to score 4 tries and gain a losing bonus point and they played a wide expansive style which eventually resulted in two intercepts for Clogher Valley tries. The score jumped to 48-17 as Grosvenor prop James McMaster barrelled his way over for a well deserved try. Proceedings came to a close with another converted try for CV, final score 55-17.
Unlikely as it may seem, I really think Grosvenor deserved the losing bonus point as they butchered many chances, especially in the first half.