Emphatic Oaks win as they shut out local rival

ENGLAND RUGBY - LONDON & SE PREMIER: Tunbridge Wells 0 Sevenoaks 45

Photo credit: Dave Purday

Sevenoaks recorded their seventh consecutive win of the season and in doing so prevented local rival Tunbridge Wells from scoring throughout this London & SE Division fixture, held at St Mark’s Recreation ground.  

Any doubt about the result was settled either side of half time. The final phases of play at the end of the first half, with a dominant Oaks leading 19 – nil but reduced to 13 men as a result of two yellow cards, saw them successfully defend any Tunbridge Wells attacking forays. Then early in the second half Oaks scored their fourth try for, what both sides knew in all likelihood, would be an unassailable 24- nil lead.

A big crowd had assembled for this eagerly anticipated ‘A21 derby’, and they witnessed a dominant display by the men from the Paddock. Their impressive run continues, displaying an intensity in defence and at the breakdown, strong set-piece play as well as speed, great running lines and precision when attacking. Backs and forwards alike contributed to this emphatic win over a Wells team that, to their credit, never gave up but were no match for Oaks on the day. Their victory keeps them in third place in the league table.

Oaks made their now customary fast start as the game began. Early pressure led to the opportunity for Oaks to deliver clean ball from their lineout, move it quickly across the field with Patrick Pellegrini making a break down the line to pass on to Awa Morris to score in the corner. Ben Adams converted to make it 7 – nil after 6 minutes. For the next 15 minutes exchanges were relatively even with both sides carrying well, but with Oaks looking more dangerous, but also giving up penalties when chances arose. Then in the 21st minute Wells overthrew at their lineout, leading to a passage of good attacking play by the away side, repeatedly breaking the gain line, culminating in a gaping hole opening in the home team’s defence for Sam Nicholls to score under the posts; converted to make it 14- nil. The Wells’ lineout was to be their Achilles heel all day, eventually leading them to take the scrum rather than kick to touch when winning a penalty.

For the next 10 minutes the game was played largely in the Tunbridge Wells half, Oaks securing ball at the breakdown and running some excellent lines. A deliberate knock on by Wells in the 29th minute allowed Oaks to kick to touch and execute their well-drilled catch and drive for Man of the Match Scott Sedgewick to score his first try of the day. The two touch judges disagreed on the validity of the conversion, the referee calling it a miss, leaving the score at 19- nil. The yellow card awarded to Oak’s Shayden Osgood for a high tackle in the 32nd minute led to Wells’ best period of pressure in the Oak’s 22. Repeated infringements by the Navy and Golds led to a warning from the referee which they failed to heed, with James Fotheringham yellow carded for playing the ball on the wrong side. Oak’s defence was tested, holding out superbly, helped by Wells lack of composure and accuracy near the line. Half time Oaks led 19- nil.

Despite starting the second half conceding two quick penalties, Oaks soon found their feet disrupting Wells at the set piece and winning their own ball to create scoring opportunities. From a lineout in the 46th minute they scored their second catch and drive try, planted down by Scott Sedgwick for his second of the day. 24 – nil after the conversion was missed. The bonus point had been secured. There was then a long stoppage in play as both medical teams attended to Sam Nicholls who appeared to have sustained a neck injury, left the field on a stretcher but happily was seen sitting up on the sideline later in the game.

Following the re-start the remainder of the game saw Oaks dominate, playing aggressive fluent rugby, scoring three more tries despite fierce commitment and effort from their opponent. A penalty try was awarded to Oaks in the 55th minutes as the Wells’ defence had little choice but to pull down another marauding maul from the visitor’s lineout ball. 31- nil. Then in the 60th minute an untidy Wells’ lineout led to an impressive back line move nearly resulting in the 6th try of the match, only for Patrick Pellegrini to be thwarted near the line. The large Oaks following in attendance didn’t need to wait long as once again Pellegrini impressed, this time returning a long kick up field by Wells, jinking down the touchline for the ball to be twice moved infield for Henry Galligan to score; converted to make it 38 – nil. The scoring was completed when Freddie Richardson bulldozed round the back of the imperious Oak’s lineout, where Stu Coleman impressed tremendously again, to score the 7th try, converted to make the final score 45 – nil.

There then followed the loudest non-scoring cheer of the day by Oak’s players, coaches and supporters alike as the pack, boosted by the arrival of prop Charlie Naismith, scrummed down to completely overpower the tired and defeated Wells forwards. The final whistle blew.

Oaks Director of Rugby and Head Coach said after the match, “A very pleasing day at the office for the squad with both teams winning today, which was our objective at the start of the week.  Excluding some discipline issues around the breakdown & tackle area, I felt we delivered a clinical and controlled performance away from home.  I was particularly pleased with our strong set piece display, our speed of ruck and our low error count in attack.

This week sees probably Oaks toughest test of the season with the visit of North Walsham.