Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV 26-9 Gravesend RFC 1st XV
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On a day which saw Sevenoaks RFC host a fundraising and awareness initiative for the Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby Team, the 1st XV entertained Gravesend RFC 1st XV at the Paddock. Oaks started the day one place above their guests and went into the game on the back of a good bonus point victory the week before at Cobham.
In front of a large crowd, both teams took their time to settle, with the opening ten minutes. Unlike previous weeks, when Oaks have allowed the opposition to score first, the home side were first to strike. After a catch and drive at the lineout, flanker Will De Smith broke down the left hand side. With the winger still to beat, the young open side stepped and showed great strength to streak in to score in the far corner to the delight of the home crowd. Full Back Tom Floyd hit an excellent conversion and Oaks were 7-0 to the good.
Oaks were then guilty of switching off and going through the motions as Gravesend worked their way back into the game, converting two penalties following Oaks infringements, meaning the score stood at 7-6.
Sensing Oaks needed a lift, Head Coach Adam Bowman re-shuffled his pack, with Josh Pettet and Dan Power coming on in the forwards and Oliver Shirtcliff in the backs. It seemed to work, as Oaks started to play with more tempo and urgency. On the stroke of half time, after Sean Derrick had broken up the right flank, Oaks retained possession and worked the ball across to set up play on the away teams 22. With more good hands from Nigel Gumbleton, Oaks created an opening for speedster Jonny Short, who shrugged off several defenders to score. The try was unconverted but Oaks went in at half time 12-6 to the good.
Sensing Oaks needed a lift, the Paddock crowd were in full voice at the start of the second half, and a packed Bradshaw-Pearl balcony were treated to an early score through fly-half Gumbleton, after good hands from the back line, slid over to extend Oaks lead. The excellent conversion from Oaks allowed a bit of breathing space and the men in blue and gold were now 19-6 up.
If the Oaks faithful and players thought that this would signal the floodgates opening, then they were to think again, as a resilient Gravesend team continued to scrap for every ounce of possession. Indeed they worked their way up the park and converted another penalty to bring them back within ten points. Oaks were getting frustrated, and coughed up the ball on several occasions despite good runs from De Smith, who had moved to the wing, and the forward pack, but try as they might, the score wasn’t coming.
With five minutes to go, Oaks resulted to brut force and after Floyd penalty to the corner, Oaks caught and drove the ball from the resulting line out, with Josh Pettet the man to bundle over to the delight of the crowd and his team mates. Shirtcliff hit the conversion and Oaks had not only put the game to bed, but had also secured a try bonus point. As the referee blew the whistle for the end of the match, Oaks had secured five league points in with a 26-9 victory.