Oaks First XV and their supporters navigated considerable travel difficulties to visit CS Stags at Chiswick for their London & South East league fixture on Saturday, looking for consecutive victories and their first on the road.
Running out comfortable winners in a game they never looked like losing, we only really saw the intensity Oaks showed the previous week against Westcombe Park during the second half, eventually running out 37 to 17 winners with two late consolation scores by CS disguising the Kent team’s dominance.
The first half, often scrappy and with a number of handling errors, saw Oaks score their only try of the half when a lovely kick over the CS defence by Ollie Shirtcliff was caught by Ben Adams for his first try of the day, converted by him to lead 7-0 after 7 minutes. Despite their early lead and strong dominance in both the scrum and lineout, Oaks didn’t press home their advantage and CS, when awarded a penalty in the 24th minute, made the score 7-3.
The remainder of the first half consisted of Oaks pressing in CS territory with eye-catching breaks from the Oaks new number 11 Awa Morris but with the team not able to convert pressure into points, including a missed penalty kick for goal after 32 minutes. It wasn’t until deep into stoppage time that the dominance in the scrum led to a penalty infringement by CS with the resultant kick slotted between the posts to give Oaks a 10-3 half time lead. With their own line not really threatened during the first 40 minutes, Oaks will have left the field knowing greater intensity and precision would be required to secure the victory and bonus point win.
Despite knocking on from the kick off, Oaks immediately delivered the step up Director of Rugby & Head Coach Adam Bowman would have demanded at half time. After 44 minutes a series of good phases of play started with Ben Adams ripping the ball away in a tackle and finished with him dribbling the ball skilfully, soccer style, over line to score his second try. The successful conversion made the score 17-3.
Oaks continued to penetrate the CS red zone but to the home team’s credit they were able to repel the usually effective Oaks catch and drive. In the 50th minute a ‘try’ by Awa Morris was disallowed for a forward pass but that only postponed the inevitable as a great switch of play right then left off the base of an Oaks scrum saw the number 11 finish well. The conversion made it 24-3 and the only question now was would Oaks secure the bonus point win.
With CS unable to generate any real go forward momentum and a growing penalty count against them, Oaks found themselves in front of the CS posts taking a scrum leading to Fred Richardson driving over to secure their 4th try and the bonus point. With 15 minutes remaining the score was 29-3.
There then followed the best passage of play by CS, rewarded with a try under the posts in the 74th minute. However Oaks immediately secured the kick off and having worked the ball into midfield, Josh Thorneycroft blasted through the opposition defence to score Oaks 5th try, converted, to lead 36-10 after 73 minutes.
With Oaks’ defensive set up seeming largely untroubled by a late flurry from CS, a rare missed tackle allowed CS to head for the corner and be awarded a penalty try with the last action of the game. A final score of 36-17.
Director of Rugby and Head Coach Adam Bowman said after the game “it is great to come away with the win, our second in a row. We were slow to come out of the blocks and lacked intensity in the first half, but in the second half we got to a good level and played some very good rugby.
Man of the match was awarded to Scott Sedgwick, with Ben Adams certainly running him close.
After a dominant and satisfying victory, Oaks look forward to welcoming early season league leaders Havant to the Paddock next Saturday for what will be a tough encounter.