Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV produced a bonus-point winning performance away to Tottonians to maintain their position at the top of London South 1. That position in first place is shared with Medway RFC, a team Oaks will face in two weeks’ time at the Paddock in a tantalising fixture.
Oaks travelled to Totton in fine fettle, with an almost fully fit squad to choose from and on the back of beating local rivals Westcombe Park in their previous fixture.
On a heavy pitch, but in clear conditions, Oaks kicked off full of confidence and eager to make a mark early on in the game.
Almost immediately, that plan was thrown out the window and within a minute the men from the Paddock were 7-0 down as Tottonians took advantage of a defensive lapse in the Oaks ranks to score a good try on the right hand wing. The home side full back stroked over a fine conversion to the delight of the home crowd and completed a perfect start.
Despite the visitors then working their way up the field into Tottonian territory, Oaks were unable to make the pressure count, largely in part to the excellent home defence and willingness to put their bodies on the line.
Oaks’ frustrations grew as firstly number 8 Alex Suttie was denied a try by the referee, who deemed the ball was held up on the line. Two minutes later, the home side’s full back stroked over a penalty after Oaks had been deemed to be offside. 10-0 to the home side and the away support were getting somewhat concerned.
But Oaks’ pressure was starting to tell as the home side continued to give away penalties for various offences. It allowed Oaks to gain field position and momentum. From a line out close to the Totts line, the Oaks pack drove their opponents back with force and hooker Scotty Sedgwick burrowed over from close range. Ben Adams converted and the away side were back in the game.
The men from the Paddock had the bit between their teeth and with a minute remaining of the first half, burrowed over again from close range through back rower Matt McRae. Adams converted, Oaks had recovered and led 14-10 at the break.
The start of the second half saw Oaks replicate what the hosts had done at the beginning of the contest and score immediately from the kick off. The excellent debutant Josh Livett fielded a loose kick, beat the first man with a strong step and fend, before sprinting through and offloading to Adams who in turn offloaded to the oncoming Jonny Short.
The returning left winger strolled over for a fine score and with less than a minute on the second half clock. Oaks had now extended their lead to nine points.
The remainder of the game saw Oaks in control, although they were perhaps guilty of not being as clinical as they would have liked. They did however return home with a bonus point, after prop Alex Rolfe followed in the footsteps of his front row bretharin Sedgwick, burrowing over from short range after good work from the Oaks pack. Adams converted. 26-10 to Oaks, a score which was to remain until the final whistle.
Coach Bowman demands ruthlessness against Medway
A pleased, if not delighted, Head Coach Adam Bowman said after the game “We hadn’t won here before, so it’s a real feather in the cap for the boys to get the win and the bonus point, which allows us to stay in pole position at the moment. Tottonians were a physical side and we had to show patience and belief in our processes.”
The Head Coach continued: “We will need to be more ruthless though if we are to continue to maintain our league position. Looking ahead to Medway in two weekstime, we know that they are relentless and will put away any opportunities. We will need to match them in that department and be at the top of our game to be in with any chance of a victory.”