Mighty Oaks given early warning sign

London Premier: Sevenoaks 8 Sidcup 36

Sevenoaks Rugby Club 1st XV were brought back down to earth with a bang on Saturday as they succumbed to a ruthless Sidcup RFC team by 36 points to 8.  After the euphoria of the week before, Oaks suffered their first defeat in 18 months at Knole Paddock, when they lost to Thurrock on March 10, 2018.

In front of a packed Paddock, bathed in mid-September sunshine, Sidcup RFC kicked off attacking towards the Clubhouse end. With a strong set of forwards and pacy outside backs, the men from Sydney Road struck within the first ten minutes, as the excellent number 8 West barged his way over in the left hand corner for an unconverted score.

If the home crowd had thought that might spur the home side into action, then they were to be disappointed, as Sidcup continued to pile pressure onto Oaks and extended their lead through a well taken penalty by fly-half Twyford.  Mistakes were hurting Oaks, with handling errors and missed kicks to touch meaning they could not gain any momentum. Sidcup on the other hand were accurate in most areas, save for a couple of wayward passes to their wings which gave Oaks a reprieve.

One felt the game hinged on the last ten minutes of the first half and with 36 minutes on the clock, Sidcup struck a decisive blow.  Off a well-executed line-out, the ball was worked to the McMahon who brushed aside disappointing tackling from Oaks to canter in under the posts. Tywford added the extras and a few moments later, added more points to his sides tally by converting a penalty to stretch their lead to 18-0.  To Oaks credit, from the resulting kick-off, they battled their way up to the 22 and forced a penalty, which Tom Gray duly converted and the half time whistle blew.

Oaks knew that they needed to start strongly in the second half and despite their best efforts, it was the away side that got off the mark with a penalty to extend their lead to 21-3 and then on 60 minutes, Twyford struck again to pull his side away even further away.  With the clock ticking, as much as they toiled in the heat, Oaks simply couldn’t break the Sidcup defence down.  The comfortable lead gave Sidcup the opportunity to play with freedom and they scored an excellent try through speed and power as Patterson strode over with ten minutes to go.  Then, with three minutes left, ‘Cup’ secured the bonus point from a catch and drive as substitute Dennis barged over, with Twyford adding the extras to make it 36-3.

The home side did finally breach the Cup defence with a minute to go, as captain Gumbleton made a fine break and offload to Martin, who finished in the right hand corner.  Final score 36-8.

Better news came for Oaks earlier in the day, as the 2nd XV progressed through to the next round of the Kent Cup with a 36-20 win against Sidcup RFC 2nd XV. 

After the 1st XV match, Head Coach Adam Bowman said: “I thought Sidcup were excellent from start to finish – they completely controlled proceedings really and we just couldn’t get a foothold in the game. I said to the group afterwards that we must learn from this – every side has days where they struggle to find answers, but the most important thing is that we don’t get too despondent, we look to work hard this week and take a fresh look at Wimbledon RFC this Saturday.

“I was really pleased with the way the 2nd XV played and performed and there will be a number of players in that game putting pressure on the guys who started in the 1st XV match. It’s going to be a competitive week of training which is exactly what we need in the lead up to Saturday.

“And lastly, I’d like to thank everyone for their support today. It was a shame we couldn’t really showcase ourselves in the 1st XV and I hope those that came down enjoyed the atmosphere.”