Tipping point for Sevenoaks Rugby Club as title remains in the balance

England Rugby London 1 South: Sevenoaks 29 Havant 7

Alex Suttie bursts through for a Sevenoaks try. Credit: Dave Purday.

Sevenoaks Rugby Club ran out well-deserved 29 to 7 winners over a solid Havant RFC at Knole Paddock on Saturday. It was a vital win. To say the game is afoot in the title race in London 1 South is an understatement. This is how it works: The top team automatically gains promotion and the second-placed team is given a fighting chance for promotion by way of a play-off match versus the runner-up in London 1 North. Saturday’s bonus-point win sees Oaks hold onto second slot in London 1 South, one point behind leaders Medway and on the same points as Camberley and Brighton – Oaks’ 20 wins this season to the other teams’ fewer wins meaning they are in the play off for promotion seat with three matches to go. Though things can change quickly in this highly competitive League.

Havant arrived in sunny Sevenoaks from the south coast on the back of a fine run of form.and the navy and golds knew to expect a hard running pack supported by a back line that moves the ball rapidly.

Oaks were into their stride quickly and up with the pace from the get go; following some well structured moves to gain field position Dan Power was at the bottom of a robust forward drive by the pack to crash over the line and open the scoring, Ben Adams slotting the extras.

Oaks eight Alex Suttie then barraged his way past the Havant midfield, hit his stride and stepped through the full back to secure a second Oaks try to take the score to 12-0.

After scrum half Ollie Shirtcliff was forced off the field with an injury, Oaks did some re-shuffling and hustled wing back Ben Adams in for the 9 duties. He had to learn quickly in a game played at a frenetic tempo, and soon gained the knack for the distribution duties from the base. Adams also found time to let his boot do the talking, and thumped a cheeky drop-goal through the uprights to give Oaks a 15-0 half-time lead to take into the sheds.

Havant came out all guns blazing for the second stanza and before long their third three-quarter darted over following a well-worked backs move, and with the conversion the visitors were very much in contention at 15-7. Havant continued to put some solid phases together however the Oaks defensive line held strong and thanks to a huge shift from the entire squad and with the Paddock crowd to roar them on, wrestled back control of the match and with that the outcome.

The home win was effectively secured by Stuart Coleman crashing over for a try following a sequence of pick and goes, Adams again securing the extras to make it 22-7.

Even though Havant continued to press, the match became about whether Oaks could score the fourth try required to bag a bonus point. News of big wins for the teams around them in the League was filtering through to the Bradshaw-Pearl Balcony. The sense of urgency was palpable and for the final five minutes Oaks effectively camped on the Havant try line before Josh Thorneycroft plunged over the whitewash under the posts and the conversion to take the score to 29-7 was the last kick of the match.

Oaks now hit the road and head up to Dartfordians on Saturday Рall support very welcome for the 3:00pm kick off.