Sevenoaks faced CS Stags 1863 at the Paddock for their first London and SE Premier fixture of 2022. On a wet day and on a very difficult pitch, by the 35th minute of the game the home team had earned a try bonus point and all but secured victory to kick-start the second half of their campaign. This was an impressive performance, running in eight tries against an opponent who may be struggling this season but deserve huge credit for competing right to the final whistle.
Oaks played some excellent rugby in weather that worsened as the match progressed, executing the basics well, making remarkably few errors and being clinical when opportunities were created, including notching 20 points from the boot of Ben Adams in the most testing of kicking conditions. The men from Kent now sit third in the league table.
The match began with Oaks showing their intent with two early breaks from captain Sean Derrick which, although unconverted, showcased great running lines, speed and excellent handling to be repeated by the team throughout the day. As Oaks started to dominate the scrum and break downs, CS repeatedly incurred the wrath of the referee, suffering multiple penalty awards against them. The home team took advantage, and after an early 3-pointer, their maul from a lineout was pulled down illegally and Fred Richardson took a quick ‘tap and go’ penalty to score the first try. Converted, it was 10 nil after 10 minutes.
Oaks started to break the CS defensive line and a chip-kick by Patrick Pellegrini led to another penalty, scored by Ben Adams to make it 13 nil. The away team responded well for the next few minutes, securing a rare turnover and converting the subsequent penalty as Oaks infringed. 13-3 after 22 minutes.
Brave as CS were continuing to be, they were unable to threaten the home team try line for the remainder of the game. A kick return by Fred Richardson, a break by Patrick Pellegrini and quick recycled ball, saw the number 10 dummy to go over the line; the try converted; 20-3. Good ball off a lineout with Scott Sedgewick regathering to run an excellent line and pass inside to Henry Galligan to dot down took the score to 25-3, made 27-3 by the Oaks kicker’s boot.
CS were now being shunted back regularly in the scrum, with the bonus point try coming from Oak’s dominance as Sean Derrick peeled off the back to score to make it 32-3, with a forgivable blemish by Ben Adams as his kick drifted wide. There was still time in the first period for a 5th try with the final play of the half when Shaydn Osgood fended off three tackles to allow the ball to be moved out wide for Ben Adams to score.
The two mud-soaked teams left the field with their kits almost indistinguishable, Oaks leading 39-3. The crowd knew CS would be playing for pride in the second half requiring Oaks to maintain their high standards if more points were to come.
The second half understandably lacked some of the fluidity of the first, the game played almost exclusively in the CS half, with the men from West London digging in to disrupt Oak’s rhythm but hindered by a yellow card on the hour mark for blocking the kick chase. However, as a result of good tactical kicking, strong set pieces and the away team making handling errors, three more tries were scored. In the 51st minute a catch and drive from a lineout saw Drew Narbey-Nimeti cross the line.
A ‘pick and go’ after another set piece led to try number seven by James Simmons; and in the 80th minute effective but scrappy backs play allowed Awa Morris to score the final try of the day. All three were converted to make the final score 60-3. The Oak’s faithful gave both teams their well-deserved applause as they left the pitch. It had been a ruthless display by Oaks and a credible battling display by CS.
This weekend sees the 1st XV make the long trip to Havant to face a stern test from a strong team on a 4G surface, before hosting Sidcup and the President of the RFU, Jeff Blackett, back at the Paddock on January 22nd.
Match report and photo provided by Sevenoaks Rugby Club.