As the referee blew the final whistle on Saturday at Cobham, a match in which Sevenoaks 1st XV ran out 37-21 winners, the thoughts of Adam Bowman, his coaching staff and team turned immediately to the challenge of Brighton Blues, who sit top of the table, six points ahead of second placed Oaks. Whilst clearly pleased with the bonus point win, it is clearly a mark of how far his side have come that the squad of 18 seemed slightly downbeat with their performance.
‘First and foremost’ said the Head Coach, ‘I thought Cobham were excellent on the day. Their line speed in defence put us under a lot of pressure and their attack out wide was very good – their pacy wingers were a threat all day. We had a bit of a purple patch in the second half which allowed us to pull away and give us some breathing space but Cobham can hit you from anywhere, so we were never comfortable until the final whistle.’
The challenge for Oaks this week is league leaders Brighton Blues, who themselves had a strong bonus point win at Dartfordians RFC. After squeezing out the men from Waterhall earlier on in the season, Bowman and his team are under no illusions as to the task in hand. ‘It’s going to be a biggie! We haven’t won many times away at Brighton, so that’s the first challenge. They’ll be keen to turn us over after the game at our place and also put a bit of space between them and the chasing pack. They are a strong side throughout – well coached, physical and big with some real pace and skill out wide. But we can’t get too carried away with what they have – we need to concentrate on ourselves and ensure the detail in our processes and plan are spot on and executed to the highest level possible, specifically around our set piece and attack/defensive shape. We know as a group that too many errors crept in last weekend and we need to cut those out if we are to have any chance of coming away with something. Brighton have the ability to cut loose and put points on you quickly, so we need to be at our peak otherwise it could be a tough day.’
There was more good news for Bowman on Saturday evening, with the news filtering through that the 3rd XV had overcome Maidstone by 29-0. ‘Speaking with Pete (Wilson), the boys put in a very good performance and to nil a side, as some of the other teams have done so far this year, makes the win extra special. Those boys have started the year well and we need to make sure that we build momentum as we enter the second half of the season. The same can be said for the Gents, who entertain Ash at the Paddock – they had a really good win against Ashford two weeks ago and now need to continue that winning run to push themselves towards the top of the table.’
‘Saturday also sees the twos back in action against Beckenham and I hope that the week off has benefitted the boys in terms of resting their bodies ahead of a gruelling run-in. The challenge for those guys is to get back to the level that they were against Old Elthamians and use the frustration of losing a tight game to motivate them for Saturday. ’
For now, the focus for Bowman and his squad is getting two good training sessions under the belt before this weekend’s challenge, with the Head Coach saying ‘We are really excited about Saturday, but getting our preparation right is key. We hope we can get as many supporters down as well to Brighton for the match – I know the Under 12s of both Clubs are playing a curtain raiser beforehand at 1.15pm which will be a good way to start proceedings. I know they serve Harvey’s at Brighton as well which is a popular drink amongst the squad, coaching staff and supporters it would be great to have it flowing in our changing room after a win….we shall see!’
Second placed Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV take on first place Brighton Blues on Saturday afternoon. Kick Off is 2pm and all support is most welcome. There will be a curtain raiser to the match between Brighton Blues RFC Under 12’s and Sevenoaks RFC Under 12’s, kicking off at 1.15pm.