Sevenoaks 2nd XV travelled to Gravesend on Friday evening to take on Gravesend 2nd XV under lights. A win for the men from the Paddock would secure second place in the Kent Invicta 1 League, which would be their highest league position for a number of years.
The Oaks started with a high tempo, as half backs McKerlie and Adams dictated field position, whilst centre Jesse Fay and forwards Matt Dodd, Struan Millar, Cian Morgan-Smith and the outstanding Jack Foreman made significant dents into the home defence.
After consistent pressure in the Gravesend half, Ben Adams stroked over a simple penalty from in front of the posts to put the visitors 3-0 to the good.
Indeed they were to extend their lead with a try by winger Alex Edwards. After strong runs from Morgan-Smith, Fotheringham and Briggs, Oaks recycled the ball to the right hand side of the pitch. After a clever pass from Adams boot, Edwards gathered and dragged two men with him to score a well taken try. Adams hit a wonderful touchline conversion and Oaks were in control at 10-0.
This stirred the home side though, and buoyed on by a partisan crowd, they started to disrupt Oaks game plan and were it not for resolute defence from the men in blue and gold, the home side could have gone over the whitewash. As it was, Oaks managed to hold out and went in at half time 10-0 up.
The second half was to be an archetypal arm wrestle, as the physical and bulky Gravesend pack looked to exert their dominance. Oaks rebuffed nearly all attacks though, with Curnow and Philpott leading the defence, whilst Dodd and Fay were on hand to run Oaks out of trouble. Oaks were also boosted by the arrival of Sinclair and Castle, who in addition to Holden, added not only youthful exuberance but power to the Oaks defensive effort.
The home side were to break the Oaks defence with a chip over the top that was gathered and offloaded to the oncoming support runner who barrelled over under the bar. The successful conversion meant Gravesend were now within three at 10-7.
The next score was clearly crucial and it fell to Oaks, as after a tackle was deemed to be too high by the referee, Oaks were awarded a penalty 25 metres out which Ben Adams stroked over to extend Oaks lead again.
Despite favourable attacking positions for the home side, resolute Oaks defence meant the score remained at 13-7 and Oaks were able to celebrate a hard-earned victory.
After the match, Head Coach Adam Bowman was clearly pleased with not only the victory on the day, but the performance of the 2nd XV throughout the season saying 'We have been focused from day one to create strength in depth across the senior squad this year and the results show that we are going in the right direction. The 2nd XV have secured 2nd place in a really competitive league and that follows up the excellent performances by our 3rd XV throughout the season who won their league.'
Bowman continued 'We talked before the match about the boys emptying the tank for the last match and they certainly did that - the defensively display was really strong. It bodes well for next season if we can continue to create this strength in depth and the aim next year will be go to one better and emulate the 3rd XV by winning the league.'