Sevenoaks Rugby 1st XV entertained Brighton at the Paddock on Saturday in an enthralling encounter that was as tight as you would expect given the teams’ league standing before the match: equal on points with Oaks just nudging Brighton into seventh. Sadly for the navy and gold by the end of the day the table position was reversed as Brighton snatched victory 18-14 through a late try on the counter thanks to a barnstorming break from just outside their own 22 yard line.
The match was in the balance from the get go and the only genuinely soft score of the day was the opening one, a converted try from close quarters for Brighton.
The game then ebbed and flowed in a battle that generally saw the Oaks pack having the upper hand in the tussle up front and the Brighton back line proving a handful out wide, as they moved the ball well through hands to give space and opportunities to their outside backs. The Oaks scramble defense was made to work hard and as the teams turned in at half time Oaks had a marginal 14-10 advantage thanks to Gumbelton and Nicholls crashing over for a try apiece with the conversions exquisitely slotted on both occasions by Fotheringham.
The Paddock was in full voice as tension mounted during a second half that again showed a paper thin gap between two high quality sides.
The Rt Hon Michael Fallon - a longstanding Vice President at Sevenoaks Rugby - was guest of honour at the VPs Xmas lunch. The. event stoked the Bradshaw-Pearl balcony with a parliament of ribboned Club blazers, and they were served a treat on the pitch that more than lived up to the fine dining that preceded the match.
After Brighton narrowed the deficit with a penalty and then edged ahead 18-14, Oaks pushed hard for victory in the remaining five minutes only to fall just short in their efforts with the slight consolation of a losing bonus point.