Maidstone RFC 1st XV 36 – 5 Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV
Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV travelled to local rivals Maidstone for the opening fixture of 2017. Despite having lost in their last outing against Tunbridge Wells, Oaks were in good shape and sitting in mid-table having made a good start to life in London South 1. They were also buoyed by the return of Sean Derrick, Dominic Saunders, Simon Tree and Jamie Owen from physio the table.
Oaks have been impressive this season when playing to pattern and tempo, but for the majority of this contest, they played with neither. Elementary errors and a high penalty count allowed the much bulkier opposition to gain territory and strong arm Oaks into submission. That said, when Oaks did have possession and managed to string phases together, they were repelled by a strong, resolute defence who were in no mood to allow the men in blue and gold to gain easy yardage.
In what was to be the pattern for most of the match, Oaks kicked off, but within two minutes were back in their 22 after the referee awarded a penalty for an infringement at the breakdown.
After a number of bullocking runs, centred around their number 12, Maidstone went over for a score that was converted to make is 7-0.
Oaks were to make their first foray into the Maidstone half with the play that followed, but a combination of handling errors, turnovers and missed shots at goal meant that Oaks remained behind the eight ball for the majority of the first half.
As expected, Maidstone were a big, physical outfit. This strength allowed them to power their way into the Oaks 22 and after a well worked move, Maidstone scored in the left hand corner. The unconverted score meant that at half time, Oaks were 12-0 down.
Whilst the first half performance was well below par, a turnaround in the score was certainly not beyond Oaks. After a fairly frank half-time chat amongst the squad, Oaks started the brighter of the two sides, with Derrick and Humble particularly coming to the fore with bustling runs into the Maidstone half. However, mistakes with the ball in hand were to prove costly, and after sucking up the initial Oaks pressure, Maidstone were to score twice more in the third quarter of the match to secure a try bonus point and ultimately put the game out of reach for the visitors.
With victory somewhat fanciful, Oaks somewhat pulled off the shackles, and with a deft cross field kick from Saunders to Jonny Short who rounded his winger top dot down, at least ensured that Oaks the men from the Paddock would register a five pointer.
Two further scores from Maidstone inflated the scoreboard somewhat, but Oaks were beaten soundly by their local rivals, with the final score line reading 36-5.
After the match, Head Coach Adam Bowman commented ‘We’ve come away bitterly disappointed. There’s not been a lot of talking in the changing room after that. Our performance was probably the poorest this season and it’s frustrating that we haven’t given a good account of ourselves. Credit to Maidstone, they played the conditions a lot better than we did and played to their strengths.’
‘That said, it is a good learning curve for our young side. We had a lot of young men out there today and we said at the start of the season that we will have days when it won’t click, and clearly this is one of them. We can’t dwell on this too much as we have another tough assignment next week away at Dover. Their tails will be up seeing our result to we have to do what we have been doing so far this season – work hard in training and stick to our principles of pattern. Like I have said after some good victories, there is no point in getting carried away – we will take stock and ensure that we work to improve the areas we fell short on.’
1. D. Power
2. S. Sedgewick
3. T. Simmons
4. S. Coleman
5. S. Humble
6. G. Wheadon
7. M. Skinner
8. S. Derrick
9. S. Goodhuw
10. D. Phoenix
11. J. Short
12. S. Tree
13. S. Osgood
14. J. Owen
15. D. Saunders
16. A. Rolfe
17. O. Robinson
18. B. Adams