Gravesend RFC 27 Sevenoaks Rugby 31
Last Saturday saw Sevenoaks Rugby 1st XV travel to Gravesend RFC for their latest London 1 encounter. This was the first time this century that the clubs had met at 1st XV level and a large, well hydrated crowd were in attendance to witness proceedings.
With both sides sitting in mid table and having made solid starts to the season this promised to be a close and entertaining encounter and so it turned out. The first twenty minutes of frantic endeavour were largely played out between the two twenty two's. The first attempt at points came from the home team but the crooked shot at goal ensured matters remained scoreless.
The first meaningful period of pressure from either side saw the visitors take the lead with winger Short crossing the whitewash and dotting down under the sticks to give kicker Phoenix an easy conversion. Phoenix also added a penalty soon after to open up a ten point lead for the boys from Knole Paddock.
Gravesend responded in kind scoring an excellent try after a break out from their own half but their kicker was unable to convert the effort. He did manage to knock a penalty over late in the half to reduce the arrears and make the score 8-10 to Captain Coleman's men at the half.
As the second stanza commenced Oaks began to play like a team that really believed a highly prized win on the road was theirs for the taking. The ever effervescent Short collected a misplaced kick deep in his own half and set off on a coruscating run through a series of flailing defenders. When his progress was halted deep in enemy territory he popped the ball off to the ever willing support runner DeSmith who pottered over near the posts.
This splendid effort was soon followed by a further try from Skipper Coleman who burst through the home fringes and cantered over from twenty metres. With Phoenix converting both the core now stood at 8-24 to the visitors and it looked to be a question of not who would win but by how many.
However, Gravesend are made of stern stuff and quickly espied an opportunity to get back into the match when Oaks were reduced to 14 men after some naughtiness at a line out near the Oaks line. Quick as a flash Gravesend notched two tries, only one of which was converted to reduce their deficit to 20-24. Game back on.
Oaks, now back to full compliment, responded with a well worked set play from the base of the scrum that saw half back Goodhew accelerate through the covering back row to notch the bonus point try. Phoenix again popped the ball over the black dot, 20-31 to Oaks.
Gravesend did manage one more score that had the visiting faithful reaching for the heart pills but in the end the more clinical team on the day took home the spoils, full time 27-31.
At the final whistle coach Bowman commented, "I was pleased with the commitment from the players today after a difficult week that saw us have to rejig things after training on Thursday. However, it is our aim to grow our squad and as a coaching team we strongly believe that the 'next man up' will do an excellent job and so it proved today.
"Some of the tries we scored were just reward for some excellent team play. Whilst I am obviously disappointed that we let them back into the match late on it is great to know that you can pick up a bonus point win at a tough venue and still have areas that I know we can improve on. We now look forward to facing Chiswick at home next Saturday."
3 Simmons T
4 Coleman (Capt)
5 Naismith T