Sevenoaks Rugby Club returned from the South coast on Saturday with a bonus point win, following a last gasp 34-33 away victory at Havant RFC.
Trailing 27-33 at the end of the match with the clock in red zone territory, Sevenoaks dug deep, punted a penalty to the corner and from the lineout brought closure to a game that appeared to have slipped away. How did it come to this? Such a precarious position was all but unthinkable five minutes into the match. Oaks, in formidable form, opened at a canter with a brace of converted tries, one for Dan Power – enjoying his 100th Oaks cap – and one for Matt McCrae, both duly converted by Ben Adams. The visitors were finding the magic carpet ride of a 3G pitch much to their liking.
Havant, though, has developed a knack of winning over Oaks at Hooks Lane. They sensed that the navy and gold battle rhythm was there to be disrupted and as they hit their stride the game took on a more frantic tempo. Havant drove, carried and offloaded with precision to take themselves into a 23-14 lead at the break, capitalising on Oaks’ errors. The pause gave Oaks a welcome opportunity to lean in to the coaches’ half-time chat and take stock.
The ensuing forty minutes were relentless and highly entertaining, as everyone following the match was kept on the edge of their proverbial seats. At one stage a Mike Scott try took Oaks into the lead, only for Havant to strike back and take a 33-27 lead with time all but up.
So it was that in the dying embers of the match, Sevenoaks finally grabbed the game with both hands; the catch from the lineout, a maul and a rumble through a sequence of pick and goes saw Josh Pettet pile over for the try before Adams calmly slotted the conversion for the win.
After the match, a clearly relieved Head Coach Adam Bowman said, “Quite frankly, I’m not sure how we won that. We were dead and buried with three minutes to go and the character and control the boys showed at the end were excellent. We continued to trust the systems and processes we have in place and we executed effectively. We knew coming into this game that Havant’s League position didn’t reflect what a quality outfit they were – they will shoot up the League and not many sides will win at Hooks Lane this season. While of course we are delighted with the five-point win, the performance was below the standards and expectations we set ourselves as a squad. We have to improve if we are to maintain and build on our current League position and will be working hard this week to ensure we are much improved before Dartfordians.”
Whilst Havant Head Coach Will Knight had this to say about Sevenoaks: “They are good side on a winning run and you could see that confidence in their play, I would fully expect them to be right there in the mix at the end of the season.”
This Saturday the Paddock hosts Oaks v Dartfordians in London 1 South, 2:00pm kick off and all support welcome with both the 2nd’s and 3rd’s also in home action.