Saturday April 30th 2016 is a date that will live long in the memory of many Sevenoaks RFC supporters and players. On that day, Oaks managed to win a promotion play-off and achieve promotion to London South 1 in a match that would also be the last match that the Oaks President, the late Phil Bradshaw, would see. For Oaks opponents that day, London Cornish RFC, it would mean another year in London 2. That pain from losing out on that promotion spot was to drive Cornish on, as they swept all before them in the following season, going one step better to win automatic promotion to London South 1.
This weekend, the two teams meet again at the Richardson Evans Memorial Playing Fields, with Cornish sitting four places above Oaks in the league table, having made an excellent start to life in London South 1. Oaks have had a mixed start to the season, failing to string performances together consistently and go into Saturday’s match on the back of a draw at home to Chobham, their second this season, with Oaks drawing level in the final minutes of the match. It was Cornish’s loss to Old Colfieans last weekend that perhaps surprised many last week, with the men from Horn Park winning 36-32.
Overall, Cornish have equipped themselves well, which has been no surprise to Head Coach Adam Bowman. ‘We played their second XV last year and they were very strong, so I am not surprised at all that they have made such a good impression since their arrival in London 1 South.’ he said. ‘They are very similar to us in trying to build strength in depth across the squad . They have had weeks where they have blown teams away, notably Cobham and Thurrock and have also pushed some of the top teams too, so they probably go into the game on Saturday as slight favourites. The league is starting to take shape now and it seems as though the top three or four are separating themselves from the rest – there is then a real pack chasing, of which Cornish are top at the moment – we are desperate to get the win on Saturday and edge closer up the league.’
This week will also see the 2nd XV in action, after a three week break due to the opposition cancelling the match. ‘It is frustrating and something that is becoming more and more common in the game’ said Bowman. ‘There seem to be a number of Clubs that are now struggling to get teams out on a Saturday. I’m not sure the reasoning behind it, but it’s frustrating, particularly when the boys train hard all week, look forward to the match at the weekend and then we are getting called on Thursday night or Friday morning saying the opposition is pulling out. So we are really pleased to be playing Warlingham this weekend in a friendly, which will allow our players some game time and also put them in the frame to play the week after in the 1st XV.’
The Oaks faithful will also recognise one of the oppositions backline, with former Oaks back Dan Phoenix set to appear against the men from the Paddock. ‘We were very lucky to have Dan in our ranks last year, as are Cornish this season. Not only is he a very good rugby player, in attack and defence, but he is also a good bloke off the field too. Our loss is certainly Cornish’s gain and we will need to keep a close eye on him this Saturday. We’ll also look forward to sharing a pint with him and the rest of his team in the bar afterwards too.’
Sevenoaks RFC Senior Fixtures | Saturday 2nd December 2017
1400hrs London Cornish RFC 1st XV v. Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV
1400hrs Warlingham RFC XV v. Sevenoaks RFC 2nd XV
1400hrs Sevenoaks RFC 4th XV (Gents) v. Aylesford Bulls RFC 3rd XV