OLD Grovians beat Old Otliensians 27-23 in an enthralling and close-fought game which involved controversial second half decision where a try was awarded to the hosts.

The incident began when in an attacking move, ‘Ensians knocked on. A Grovians’ player gathered the ball and put his foot into touch, but the hosts carried with a move and crossed the line.

The ‘Ensians’ defence hesitated, expecting the referee’s whistle for a line-out or a scrum to Grovians - which never came.

This resulted in a stoppage of play lasting several minutes, but the disputed try was eventually allowed, and the conversion moved the hosts into the lead for the first time.

The match began in dry conditions with a stiff end-to-end breeze and the visitors took the initiative from the start with some enterprising back play involving centres Ollie Eaves and Luke Cowdell.

A powerful run by winger Nick Hesketh took play into the home 22, the ball was recycled and as a gap appeared, prop Michael Groves galloped through to touch down under the posts with fly half Will Cooper adding the extras for a 7-0 lead on seven minutes. Young prop Emi Ilcuta then made his debut as an injury replacement for ‘Ensians.

The hosts responded strongly with some good handling by their backs, but they suffered again as Cooper added a long-range penalty to extend the lead to 10-0 on 12 minutes.

The home side once more went into the attack with slick handling by their backs, setting up their winger to cross near the corner, narrowing the gap to 10-5 on 18 minutes. Three minutes later, the hosts again offended and Will Cooper landed his second penalty to extend the visitors’ lead to 13-5, which was the score at half-time.

With the wind at their backs, the home side went straight on the attack and reduced the deficit to 13-12 through an unconverted try on 45 minutes.

The visitors immediately responded with some good drives and offloading by their forwards with the back row of Dougie Elgar, Sam Featherstone and Joe Armitage leading the way.

Pressure told and Cooper kicked his third penalty to extend their lead to 16-13 on 52 minutes.

The controversial decision by the referee came four minutes later, which meant with the try and conversion, the home side took the lead for the first time at 19-16 on 58 minutes. There was a further setback for the visitors when prop Ilcuta had to leave the field with an ankle injury and future scrums would be uncontested.

The hosts converted a penalty to push the score to 22-16, but the visitors responded with a free-flowing move up the right flank with lively full back Ronan Maloney making ground before offloading to winger Tom Beddis.

He was tackled just short of the line, but support was there to recycle the ball for Beddis to gather and dive over for a well-earned try. The conversion by Cooper put the visitors back in front 23-22 on 72 minutes.

Back on the attack, the visitors’ backs tried to chip the ball ahead in their own half only to hand possession into the welcoming hands of the hosts, who set off an attack with forwards and backs combining well to score a converted try, re-establishing their lead at 27-23 on 75 minutes.

After a controversy over uncontested scrums, 'Ensians attacked up the left with some strong picking and driving, but unfortunately, with the line in sight, they were turned over and the hosts kicked the ball into touch to end an enthralling contest.