Havant 1st XV 36 - 32 Sevenoaks 1st XV
Sevenoaks 1st XV travelled to high-flying Havant on Saturday to play in their third away match of the month. In a thrilling contest earlier in the season at the Paddock, The Oaks had sneaked past Havant with their best performance of the season to date and knew that a similar level was required if they were to compete against a side brimming with athleticism and good skill.
In near perfect conditions, on a pitch that would undoubtedly play its part in an exhilarating contest, both teams were looking to assert their early on authority with some thunderous hits. It was from one of these hits that the referee quite rightly penalised Sevenoaks for though, with the official deeming that the tacklers arms were not used. Havant’s captain and kicker Joel Knight slotted the conversion from in front of the posts and the home side were 3-0 to the good.
In what was to prove a pattern throughout the contest, Oaks hit back almost immediately through Issac Winter’s boot, as the fly half knocked over a penalty five minutes later to make it 3-3. The first try of the match was to go to the home side though, after good work by the outstanding hooker Trail, captain Knight ran in from the 22, converting his own try to take his side into a 10-3 lead.
Oaks were starting to brim in attack though and after good work from Simon Humble, Winter and Jonny Short, the away side had a scrum on Havant’s 22. Deciding to attack the blind, scrum half Liam Cook, on debut, broke to the blind feeding Oliver Shirtcliff. The full-back put in a perfectly judged kick behind the opposition and showed a clean pair of heels to win the footrace and dot down.
Shirtcliff, full of confidence, was at it again 5 minutes later, and after Havant tried to run the ball from their ten metre line, the alert full back intercepted and sprinted through to the corner to put Oaks in the lead. A penalty from Knight saw Havant level on the scoreboard soon after, but Oaks were now playing with confidence that had perhaps alluded them in the past month. After prop Dan Power stormed his way through the Havant defence, back row Eoghan Barry made crucial yards before the ball was shipped wide, with Oaks Captain Stu Coleman picking a great line to go in unopposed and Oaks were 18-13 up.
Havant had answers however, and on the stroke of half-time, broke down Oaks right hand side and finished well in the corner, with the excellent Knight stroking over the conversion to give the home side a slender three point lead at half-time.
After both players and supporters gathered their breath, Havant were first to trouble the scorers in the second half, with Knight again punishing Oaks with a well taken penalty. Oaks were hungry for more tries though and with the returning Adam Field causing havoc with his partners in crime Winter and Shadyn Osgood, Oaks cut open Havant again, this time working the ball to the wing where young Josh Penney finished well. The excellent conversion from Winter meant Oaks took the lead again with a try bonus point secured.
Knight added two more penalties before Oaks scored arguably the try of the match. With a little dinked kick-off from Winter, winger Jonny Short burst onto the ball, gathering and working his way into the heart of Havant’s defence. After good hands, particularly from Tom Naismith, flanker Sean Derrick received the ball on the wing. Beating his man with an impish step, he strode over to add Oaks fifth of the afternoon for an excellent score.
With ten minutes to go , Havant showed the composure that sees them currently lie second in the league, working their way up the field before hooker Trail went over in the corner. Knight would finish his afternoon as he started it, stroking the ball between the posts to put Havant in the lead 36-32. Oaks still had time to go back and threw everything they had at the hosts, but were rebuffed by a well organised and committed defence.
As the final whistle blew, with both sides out on their feet, both sets of supporters showed their appreciation with rapturous applause for two teams that put on a wonderful spectacle.
After the match, Head Coach Adam Bowman commented ‘We have talked a lot as a group about the standard of performance we expect from ourselves and today was another step in the right direction. We looked really dangerous when we had the ball and I thought we scored some excellent tries. Whilst of course we are frustrated at not getting over the line with the win, to come away with 2 points against atalented and physical side that sits second in the table, its a good return. We just never really got away from them – it was back and forth all afternoon and they showed very good game management in seeing the game out. ’
Bowman was also full of praise for new starters Eoghan Barry, Josh Penney, Liam Cook and the returning Adam Field saying ‘I thought all four of the new starters brought us an extra edge today and equipped themselves really well. In particular it’s been great to have Adam Field in the group. He’s been excellent in training working on the boys skills and you could tell today that the boys are benefitting from his experience as an international rugby player.’
1. D. Power
2. S. Sedgewick
3. T. Simmons
4. S. Coleman ©
5. T. Naismith
6. E. Barry
7. S. Derrick
8. S Humble
9. L. Cook
10. I. Winter
12. A. Field
13. S. Osgood
14. J. Penney
15. O. Shirtcliff
16. A. Rolfe
17. M. Dodd
18. C. Karg