STYLISH OAKS THRASH SIDCUP: It was in the 68th minute with Oaks leading 45-0, out of the blue Sidcup scored their only try of the day. The real annoyance shown by both Oaks players and coaching staff alike was testament to their desire to maintain the intensity and high standards way beyond the point at which the match had been won. Perfectionism in the damp air!
Oaks and Sidcup supporters had assembled at Crescent Farm for this London and South-East fixture, expecting a close encounter and a low scoring affair on account of the respective league positions and dreadful weather. They were wrong on both as the result, not in any doubt from 30 minutes, saw Oaks deliver eight tries and 57 points in total giving their best performance of the season.
This was a splendid complete rugby performance, dominating their opposition in every aspect of the game. For what was their fourth consecutive win moving them into third place in the league, the Oaks forwards and backs produced an intensity at the breakdown, excellent defence all over the pitch and considerable flair and precision to run out 57-7 winners.
Despite some early territory by the home team, it took only 8 minutes for Oaks to score their first try. A deep kick by Ollie Shirtcliff forced Sidcup to knock on. From the scrum the ball was moved through the backs and when recycled James Fotheringham scored for Oaks, the try converted by Ben Adams who had a near perfect day with the boot. Not deterred by knocking on as the try line beckoned a few moments later, the second score followed from a scrum turnover, a smart kick again by Shirtcliff and Awa Morris made it 12 – 0, converted by Ben Adams. 14-0.
Oaks defence, characterised by impressive line speed, coped with any pressure Sidcup could muster. With Oaks in the opposition’s 22, following more good kicking and an acrobatic catch by Jonny Short, they stole a Sidcup lineout and moved the ball wide where the impressive Patrick Pellegrini broke free to put in Henry Galligan for another score. The conversion made it 21- 0 after 32 minutes. Another Oaks penalty moments later slotted home by Adams made it 24-0.
The team from the Paddock were now in complete control and the try bonus point came in the 42nd minute when another steal at the lineout on the Sidcup five metre line led to a pile up of bodies with the referee awarding a try to Oaks scored by Matt McRae, converted to lead 31-0 at half time. Both teams left the field. Although Sidcup looked a little deflated Oaks knew they would need to avoid any complacency in the second half.
The second period was dominated by Oaks. Sidcup’s attempts to speed up the game with quick ‘tap and goes’ only played into Oaks hands. Fierce defence, intensity and some free-flowing rugby, despite awful conditions, saw the Blue and Golds score four more tries, with only one not converted. After 56 minutes a scrum turnover helped by Charlie Naismith joining the fray for his first game of the season, allowed Awa Morris to score his second try of the day and Adams convert. 38-0. Drew Forrester got into scoring action after another Shirtcliff kick, and more great play by Pellegrini. Converted again, it was now 45-0 with 20 minutes still to play. That latest score was after an Oaks yellow card for back-chat to the referee, which happened on a number of occasions this half and can’t have pleased the coaching team.
From here to the end of the game it looked like Oaks would score every time they attacked. However then came the try for the home team, after a charged down kick, making the score 45-7. There were however two more Oaks scores before the end of the game. The first by Pellegrini following more impressive midfield moves and the second by Ben Adams from a move started, to the delight of the Oaks supporters, by a great kick off catch and run by Charlie Naismith.
With the final score at 57-7, Head Coach and Director of Rugby Adam Bowman, who had achieved his first ever coaching win over Sidcup at this level, after the match said, “that was a very impressive and complete performance by the guys today, especially in the tricky weather conditions. The group continues to work hard, improve, and grow in confidence. We will enjoy the rest week and then get ready for another tough five game/week block.”
The team now take a well-deserved break with no fixture next weekend, before preparing for the visit of Brighton to the Paddock on Saturday 16th.