They say ‘good things come to those who wait’.  22 years after Oaks 1st XV last beat Westcombe Park 1st XV, Adam Bowman’s men took to the field at Goddington Dene last Saturday and put in a fine performance to overturn Westcombe Park in a physical and frantic local derby. 

‘That was one of my most enjoyable days in Oaks colours’ remarked Bowman.  ‘It was a tight match, a big tussle but to come away from home and beat a quality side like Westcombe Park is something that you have to enjoy and cherish.  It was great to see a big crowd there too and we are hugely thankful to all those that came and cheered us on.  It was great to enjoy a beer after the game with our supporters and catch up with some of the boys at Combe and for me, that is what is important – a good, hard game of rugby between two good sides, but who are keen to share a beer and shake hands after the game.’  Bowman continued ‘We didn’t realise until after the game that an Oaks 1st XV hadn’t beaten Park since 1996.  Ben Adams said in the changing room after that he wasn’t even born then!  But aside from the history, in the here and now, to win away from home, to back up the performance against Brighton Blues, it was a good day at the office and I’m very proud for everyone at the Club.’

  Oaks drew 20-20 with Tottonians last time this weekends opponents came to the Paddock in September 2017. Photo Credit: David Purday

Oaks drew 20-20 with Tottonians last time this weekends opponents came to the Paddock in September 2017. Photo Credit: David Purday

So what has contributed to this good start?  Oaks now sit fourth, having won six out of their seven matches, whilst at this stage last year they had only a draw and two wins to their name.  A combination of hard work, maturity, development of attacking and defensive structure and a bit of luck according to the Head Coach.  ‘I think you have to have luck on your side sometimes.  Last season we had quite a few injuries early doors which disrupted us.  Momentum is key as well  - you can see how much more confidence the players have when they start winning.  But it’s down to the hard work of the coaches, physios, S&C coach and the players really as well as being another year on in our game structure.  Lastly, the strength in depth has developed – our Senior sides were extremely strong across the board on Saturday.  Despite our 2nd XV losing to a very strong Canterbury team, the performance review said we played very well and our 3rd XV and 4th XV also won, so it shows the strength and depth that we are building and enables us to cope with injuries better than we did last year perhaps.’

Oaks Academy backed up the Senior Squad wins with victory on Sunday in the National Cup, as the Under 18s beat Hove to progress to the second round of the competition, which delighted the Head Coach.  ‘We have a rich history in the competition, so to see the boys progress, and in style, was great to see.  A number of those boys have trained with the Seniors and Charlie Corrigan in particular has already got a number of appearances under his belt for the 1st and 2nd XV, which no doubt puts him in good stead when playing at Under 18 level.  We will continue to progress those players into Senior rugby when the time is right and the environment that Nat and Rolfey have put in place is allowing those players to play some exciting rugby.’

  Head Coach Adam Bowman has called on Oaks to re-focus again this week and put in another controlled performance. Photo Credit: David Purday

Head Coach Adam Bowman has called on Oaks to re-focus again this week and put in another controlled performance. Photo Credit: David Purday

Oaks 1st XV are back to it this weekend with a home fixture against Tottonians, whilst the 2nd XV welcome Westcombe Park to the Paddock – two matches which once again will prove extremely stern tests.  ‘Nothing changes’ says Bowman.  ‘We have to work bloody hard this week in training and make sure we make amends for the errors made on Saturday.  We are only at the start of this season and if we take our foot off the gas, we will get knocked from pillar to post in the lead up to Christmas.  What has got us victories so far is our hard work and execution of a game plan – anything less is unacceptable.’

Senior Squad Fixtures | Saturday 27th October 2018

1500hrs 1st XV v. Tottonians RFC 1st XV

1300hrs 2nd XV v. Westcombe Park RFC 2nd XV

1500hrs Gents v. Cranbrook RFC 4th XV

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