In the build up to last weekend’s match, many could have been forgiven for thinking that Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV were going to be on the end of a loss. Brighton Blues arrived having completed an opening month ‘full house’, winning with a try bonus point in each of their five outings and racking up a significant amount of points whilst doing it. A big strong pack, with a pacy and skilful backline meant Head Coach Adam Bowman knew Oaks were going to have their hands full. But Oaks clearly did their homework and in a pulsating encounter, overturned the Blues to win 16-12.
‘It was probably our most controlled performance of the season so far – it was torrid conditions and credit to both sets of players for playing some quality rugby. The red card (for Brighton Blues) was a shame. I actually thought we were on top by quite a bit at that stage anyway, so I’d like to think we would have still prevailed even against the 15 men. I think we played the conditions well and there were some outstanding performances in the pack and our half backs put us in the right areas. We showed that when we play to a game plan and structure, we can be a challenge for the top teams in the league – I said a few weeks back that we need to back up performances and get onto a roll, which we have done now. Last season was a bit stop-start – we’d win a game, then draw, then lose, then maybe win again – it creates a bit of a rollercoaster. But the remainder of October and then November is probably going to be our biggest challenge, facing Westcombe Park, Tottonians, Medway and Camberley, so whilst we have given ourselves a good start, we’ll know more about ourselves come the end of November.’
There was further good news for Oaks before kick off as the 2nd XV beat Beckenham 60-0, responding well after they were beaten by Old Elthamians Development team the week before. ‘To nil a side is pretty special and to score sixty points in those conditions was impressive. I think there were a few frustrated players in that team who knew that they hadn’t performed the week before. We had open and honest conversations last week and it’s good to see how the team reacted.’
This weekend sees a rest for the 1s and 2s, which Bowman sees as vitally important. ‘The first six matches have been physically challenging, so a chance to rest the bodies is welcomed. We had a light session on Tuesday, with some video analysis and the boys will have Thursday off. It means they can rest up and then go full guns blazing from next week again for two important training sessions before we head to Westcombe Park.’
Oaks 3rd XV are able to make amends for last weekends cancelled match, when they take on Dover 2nd XV, whilst the Gents travel the short distance to Leigh to play the Layabouts. ‘The 3rd XV have had a bit of a tough start to the season, simply because a number of their fixtures have been cancelled due to the opposition crying off, so it will be a good chance to get a good test against Dover at the Paddock. The Gents are also in unchartered waters having lost a couple of games on the bounce, but no doubt they will be looking to bounce back this weekend in the derby match with Leigh.’
‘It’s an important time coming up – with conditions changing, injuries, availability and other factors, you need a good squad with depth, which I believe we have, but only time will tell.’