It was two out of three this weekend as the 2nd XV turned in arguably their best display of the season, winning 59-19 against Old Alleynians RFC 2nd XV and the 3rd XV continued to hog the winners podium with a 31-21 win against the Met Police RFC. It was the 1st XV who were the only Senior team to suffer defeat, as they went down to the League Champions Sidcup RFC in a physical battle at Sydney Road 27-12.
The 1st XV match against Brighton Blues 1st XV will be their last match of the season. The 2nd XV are also at home, taking on Medway 2nd XV, whilst the 3rd XV travel away to Merton Road to face Canterbury 4th XV. And so it seems a good as time as any then to review Oaks home record with two men that have been at the centre of all things Oaks this season, Head Coach Adam Bowman and Captain Stuart Coleman.
‘We love playing at home’ commented Coleman. ‘The movement of the 1st XV pitch at the start of last season has really helped boost crowds and makes a big difference to us as players to hear the support from the Bradshaw-Pearl balcony. Win or lose, the atmosphere in the Club afterwards has been brilliant this season as well – its still been buzzing at 10.30pm and it just goes to show what a special place this is’.
Both agree that the home match against Havant, who at the time were second in the league, was the best all-round performance from a 1st XV this year with Bowman commenting ‘That was probably the closet to an 80 minute performance that we put in.. We had to be on our mettle from the off and everyone contributed hugely to that win. Both sides went out to play rugby and it was a hard physical game as well. I think if you were to ask most supporters and players, that was not only the highlight performance of our home matches, but of our season’.
And the 2nd XV performance against table toppers Sidcup was singled out by Bowman as the highlight of the 2nd XV home performance saying ‘We had a really good crowd down and a lot of the young players stepped up in that game. Players like Jack ‘Moose’ Holden who was making one of his first senior appearances and played out of his skin along with a number of players that had pulled on a 1st XV shirt this season. The defence at the end was outstanding and it was a game that showed the strength in depth we are trying to build here’.
But it all hasn’t been perfect and Coleman sights Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells at the Paddock as two games that he would love to play again given half a chance. ‘The Maidstone game felt like we let it slip through our fingers. We were comfortably up at half time, but they seemed to edge their way back into it and nicked it at the death. That said, I think we learnt lessons from that game and a few weeks later closed out the game against Havant, so in that respect, we had learnt quite a bit from that result.’
Bowman cites the Tunbridge Wells game as a match where his troops were beaten by a side ‘a year ahead of us’. ‘That second half performance by them was very good – they squeezed us and closed us down very quickly, taking their chances well. It was a good lesson in a mature performance for us and something we have learnt from.’
Bowman continues ‘But all in all, our home performances have brought us some happy memories. We’ve beaten some good sides here – Cobham, Chobham, Tottonians and the last minute win against Gravesend was another highlight.’
And so the focus for the squad turns to Brighton Blues and Medway 2nd XV at home and Canterbury 4th XV away. Brighton Blues have without doubt been the most resurgent team in the league, beating Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone in recent weeks and Coleman and his men are more than aware that they will pose a serious threat this coming Saturday saying ‘It was a really tough game when we played down in Brighton before Xmas and they seem to have had an injection of confidence and maybe a couple of new players since then. They’re confidence will be riding really high so we will need to ensure we maintain the standards we have set ourselves. It will be a game that will be nip and tuck I’m sure of it. But we really want to finish our home league campaign on a high. If we can get the same support behind us that we have had all season then I’m sure it will help us try and get over the line.’
Senior Squad Fixtures – 8th April 2017
All 1500hrs KO
Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV v. Brighton Blues 1st XV
Sevenoaks RFC 2nd XV v. Medway RFC 2nd XV
Canterbury RFC 4th XV v. Sevenoaks RFC 3rd XV