Sevenoaks Rugby 1st XV 24 Havant RFC 1st XV 21
Last Saturday saw Oaks welcome Havant RFC to the Paddock for their latest London 1 league encounter. Last time out Havant had dealt severely with Maidstone whilst Oaks had returned from their travels to Hampshire without any reward for the first time this season.
Oscar Wilde once famously opined ‘The suspense is terrible, I hope it will last’. Well Oscar, along with the supporters of both sides, would have enjoyed this seesawencounter, with the result in doubt right up to the final whistle. The game also benefitted from a difference in styles with, on this occasion, the larger more physically imposing visitors losing out to the home team who were, over the piece, more fleet of thought and deed.
From the outset both sides tried to impose their will on proceedings with Oaks probing the timorous defence of the visitors out wide, whilst Havant looked to gain ascendancy in the tight and send their big ball carriers at the heart of the Oaks pack.
It was therefore somewhat strange to see the home side go ahead from a catch and drive of their own that splintered the Havant rear guard before the ever willing Sedgwick offloaded to scrum half Goodhew who scampered over unopposed under the sticks for a 7-0 lead.
This stung the Hampshire side into action and they registered two quick fire penalties of their own, just reward for the pressure they applied in the Oaks twenty two, that saw winger Weston make two outstanding try saving tackles. Oaks then notched their second try of the day through winger Shortwho finished well after a nicely timed pass from centre Tree as the Oaks backline exploited the space offered on the wide outside. True to form back came Havant who notched a try and penalty of their own to secure a 14-16 lead at the break.
After the half time oranges a new name on the Oaks team sheet stepped forward to make his mark on his debut from the bench. For readers of a certain vintage the name Johnny Morris will always be associated with the programme ‘Animal Magic’, however, the home faithful were given cause to cheer his name as he powered over in ox like fashion to score Oaks third try in the early minutes of the second stanza, with Winter adding the extras the score was now 21-16 to Captain Coleman’s men.
As the half progressed both sides had chances to add to their tally but were ultimately denied by a combination of iffy decision making and solid defence. Havant then managed to create a score off their own but crucially missed the conversion to leave matters tied at 21 all.
Oaks continued to probe for the win and Winter showed he had ice in his veins as he converted a penalty to kick what proved to be the winning points. Thereafter the crowd endured20 minutes of agonising torment including an extended period of extra time.
At the final whistle Oaks had picked up a deserved win and, as the home faithful looked for somewhere to have a lie down with a couple of calming doses of electric soup to cool their fevered brows, head coach Adam Bowman commented, "I was delighted by the efforts of the team today. In our pre-match team meeting we asked the player group to play rugby in the right areas of the park, bring a high level of intensity to our defense and the breakdown, and to show personality on the pitch – something I felt the players delivered."
"You never want to single players out because it was a true squad performance today but Tree, Weston and Derrick had their best games in an Oaks shirt and it was great to see Morris score on his debut. We now have two weeks off which will allow us to rest some aching limbs and prepare for a very tough game at Gravesend on 22 October."
4 Coleman (Capt)