Oaks continue winning run with impressive display in East Anglian countryside

Credit: Sevenoaks Rugby Club via Twitter

The Norfolk drizzle was firmly out in force as Sevenoaks embarked on their longest journey of the season to take on North Walsham RFC. A large crowd, including a bus load of students from the nearby University of East Anglia, had turned out to watch this much anticipated clash between two teams who have been going toe to toe towards the upper echelons of London South East Premier all season; which made for a crackling atmosphere in the Norfolk countryside.

It was the Kentish men who settled better to the occasion, stringing together an impressive number of phases in the opposition half with their ball carrying forwards making inroads into the North Walsham defence. Eventually, the pressure was to tell, as outside centre Shadyn Osgood showed his strength to fend off the defender and maraud his way into the opposition ’22, an exchange of offloads followed before Osgood found the ball back firmly in his grasp as he crashed over the try line to give Oaks a deserved 5-0 lead. Oaks’ kicker in chief Ben Adams narrowly missed the conversion from a very tricky angle.

After the restart, it was again the Sennockians who found themselves with territory and possession as their scrum began to turn the screw on their opponents and the Oaks pack continued to impress around the field, with second row Narbey-Nimeti putting in a particularly all court display. Eventually, this pressure earned Oaks a penalty in front of the posts as an East Anglian defender failed to roll away at a tackle. Adams duly stroked over the opportunity to increase the lead to 0 – 8. 

Despite continued Oaks’ pressure, the North Walsham defence held impressively firm and, as the first stanza neared its conclusion, Oaks would have been forgiven for wondering if they were going to be made to rue the missing of a couple of guilt edge try scoring opportunities. Sure enough, before the referee’s whistle blew, the Norfolk men offered a stark reminder of their attacking ability when Oaks carelessly turned over the ball in the middle of the field allowing North Walsham to move the ball to space and make a foray into the Oaks’ half. The Kentish defence scrambled well and managed to win the ball back and find touch for half time to ensure Oaks went into the break with a 0 – 8 lead. 

It was to be North Walsham who started the second half the brighter as they used the slight slope and wind advantage they now enjoyed to exert their first real and sustained pressure of the match. However, the Oaks’ defence was imperious on the day with centre combination of Osgood and skipper Gumbleton, remarkably making their first start together in the blue and gold, showing a superb blend of aggression and skill to lead the Oaks line and keep the North Walsham attack at bay. 

This defensive application and patience was to pay dividends as Oaks spotted some space on their right flank and some excellent handling got the ball to Adams in acres of space. He broke the North Walsham line before chipping skilfully over the onrushing back field defenders. The ball came to a halt in the North Walsham in goal area and the Oaks’ winger had time to look around and enjoy the moment before dotting the ball down. Again, a tricky conversion was missed.  

It was then however that North Walsham enjoyed their best period of the match, squeezing Oaks into their own half and creating some try scoring opportunities of their own. Eventually, as the clock ticked down, the North Walsham maul was to prove an incisive weapon as a couple of meaty drives allowed them to touch down over the line. The extras were missed and there was no time for the restart. The final whistle blew on a ferocious encounter and the Oaks were delighted to take the four points with them back to The Paddock.