Oaks show flair and resilience in excellent 5-point away win at Havant

ENGLAND RUGBY LONDON & SOUTH EAST PREMIER: Havant 24 Sevenoaks 41

The men from Kent had already scored four converted tries before Havant rumbled over for their first of the day after fifty-two minutes. However, what was looking like a comfortable but hard-fought win could have been placed in jeopardy by a red card issued to Oak’s Awa Morris for an incident after the Hampshire team had scored. Up to that point the visitors had played some excellent rugby, with Havant unable to live with Oaks at the breakdown or cope with the speed and precision of their attacks, breaking their defensive line on numerous occasions.

The remainder of the game saw the home team score two more tries but in truth the result never looked in doubt despite their numerical advantage. Sevenoaks had relished the fast 4G pitch offering perfect conditions for their intensely physical free flowing rugby. Credit must also go the Havant who threatened more as the game progressed, deploying their bulky forward pack, releasing their lightening quick backs. It was however a fully deserved win for the Oaks, who cemented their third place in the league moving onto fifty nine points, four behind top spot.

This London and SE Premier fixture began with the visitors almost scoring in the first minute, when a break from Shaydn Osgood was repelled just short of the line. This led to a twenty-minute period of Oak’s territorial and attacking dominance, allowing Ben Adams to convert a penalty after six minutes for a block on Patrick Pellegrini. A 100% kick conversion rate would follow for Ben, renamed Bryan Adams for the day by the Havant announcer! Then, after a break by the Oak’s number 10 won a penalty, the ball was driven on from the efficient Oak’s lineout, ending up with Pellegrini dummying to score the first of his three tries of the day. After eighteen minutes, Havant infringed at a maul, Oaks kicked to touch and rumbled forward to allow Fred Richardson to peel off the back to score; converted by Adams to make it 17 – 0.

Havant then had a good ten-minute spell, keeping the ball with their big forwards and opting to take a scrum and then a lineout when Oaks were penalised, but the visitors defended well, including holding up a Havant attacker over their own line. In the twenty seventh minute the referee awarded a penalty to the home team and yellow carded Matt McRae for kicking the ball away after the whistle. Havant took the points to make it 17 -3. In the thirty seventh minute, deep in Havant territory to the delight of the Oak’s travelling faithful, their seven-man scrum shunted the home team’s backwards, forcing the home team number 8 to flick the ball into the hands of the Oak’s replacement scrum half to score. Henry Galligan’s try was converted to make it 24 – 3. In an evenly matched closing period, there was still time for Oaks to add three more points and Havant to receive their own yellow card for a shoulder barge.

The teams left the field with the visitors leading comfortably but knowing Havant would, in all likelihood, react and improve in the second half.

Another fast start saw Oaks regather their kick-off, recycle the ball and Pellegrini go over for his second try; converted, 34 -3, and the bonus point secured. Then came the Havant fifty second minute try following their first entry into Oak’s territory after the restart. However, it was the men from Kent who scored next, with Pellegrini intercepting and crossing the line after a scrappy period of play. At 41 – 10 with sixty minutes played, the win for Oaks was, in all probability, secured but a sustained period of pressure by the home team took their try count to three and the score to 41 -24. Havant continued to press to the final whistle as Oaks were stretched, but good defence denied the Hampshire team their four-try bonus point.

This week sees Sevenoaks welcome Sidcup back at the Paddock.