Bonus point win for Oaks keeps them in second place

ENGLAND RUGBY LONDON & SE PREMIER: Sevenoaks 36 Wimbledon 5

Sevenoaks Rugby Club clinched a 36-5 win over stumbling Wimbledon on Saturday afternoon giving them a 12-match unbeaten run with just four games to go in the London & SE Premier.

Wimbledon scalped Sevenoaks back on November 13th with a 15-12 win in the return fixture, but that ‘in-form’ team from South London have found life rather difficult since. Indeed, it’s quite a comparison to the Mighty Oaks’ journey since that match, which was the last time they lost! Adam Bowman’s senior squad are really pushing on all fronts this season and with just four league matches to go, it really couldn’t be more exciting for the boys from Knole Paddock.

Sevenoaks will enjoy a week off before they travel to top of the table Dorking on March 26th. In what is sure to be a real humdinger of a game, travelling support has never been in such demand for the Mighty Oaks to reach their full potential, and National 2 destiny surely awaits the winner of the tie. Sevenoaks beat Dorking 8-6 in the home fixture back in November.

Match report against Wimbledon below

A complete all-round performance by Sevenoaks, at home to Wimbledon, saw the Oaks score six tries in this London & SE Premier fixture. Whilst results are of course important, particularly at this late stage of an exciting season, the day’s undoubted highlight was the marking of club stalwart Josh Baldock’s 100th appearance for the club, cheered on by a big crowd at the Paddock which included many of his family and friends.

The game itself required Oaks to battle through a first twenty minutes which saw determined visitors take advantage of a strong wind at their backs to build sustained pressure. At the point the home team was reduced to thirteen players, after two yellow cards received within a matter of moments, the SW London team crossed the line to lead 0 – 5. From that point on, at the end of the first quarter, Oaks took control of the game, running in 36 unanswered points by the final whistle. Key performance highlights saw the men from the Paddock defend superbly when needed, execute great ball handling skills at pace on a blustery day and create excellent set-piece platforms for attacking rugby. The first half stoppage time try, scored by Jonny Short and made by Josh Livett, was a “thing of beauty” to quote the Oaks’ Chairman on the sideline. The only negative on the day was the Oaks’ inability to restrict the penalty count against them, with offences continuing to be pinged well after the game was all but won. Credit must also go to a battling Wimbledon, much changed from their victory over Oaks earlier in the season and heavily impacted by injuries, losing key players on the day.

It was during the second quarter of the game, with Wimbledon attempting to run the ball and largely abandoning the use of the boot in their defensive third, that Oaks exercised breakdown dominance and established go-forward ball, with the points starting to come, Their first try came from a lineout catch and drive, with centurion Josh Baldock burrowing towards the line only for the referee to award a penalty try for ‘foul play’. What would have been the most popular try of the day was, nevertheless, a welcome 7 points. Continued Oaks’ pressure led eventually, deep in stoppage time, to a kick by the Wimbledon fly half, which led to Short and Livett exchanging passes four times to go seventy-five metres to score. The conversion was missed, and at half time Oaks led 12 – 5. The Oaks’ players left the field knowing the Wimbledon threat had been repelled and the wind, if used well, could be a significant advantage in the second stanza.

The Sevenoaks’ men started the half well, shunting their opponents back at every scrum, and building attacking field positions for the opening 15 minutes. After 46 minutes, came the best team try of the day, with a well-functioning lineout leading to a drive for the line, multiple ‘pick and go’s’ and, having sucked in the Don’s defence, moving the ball at speed through the hands out wide for Josh Livett to score in the corner. Ben Adams converted to make it 19 – 5. Despite more penalties against them, the bonus point try arrived from another lineout in midfield, moved via backs and forwards to allow Jonny Short to score his second try. The conversion was missed, so Oaks led 24 – 5 after fifty-five minutes.

There then followed a good period of Wimbledon pressure, threatening the Oaks’ line but great aggressive defence enabled them to keep the visitors at bay. A relieving penalty on sixty-five minutes allowed Oaks to re-establish territorial dominance for much of the remainder of the game, leading to two more tries, one when Wimbledon were down to fourteen men. Taking a scrum when awarded a penalty, the ball was sent cross-field by the boot of fly half Awa Morris for Ben Adams to score in the corner; conversion missed, 29-5. Try number six arrived when, despite the NFL-style ‘block of the day’ on Oaks’ skipper Nigel Gumbleton by his opposing centre, Awa Morris danced through tackles to release the ball to find its way to Scott Sedgwick who scored in the corner. Adams completed the match with a successful conversion, confirming a 36 – 5 final score.

After the match Director of Rugby and Head Coach Adam Bowman said “after a challenging first half, I thought we responded really well and delivered an excellent second half performance in front of a packed crowd!”

Oaks now have a break before the crucial top of the table clash away at Dorking on March 26th.