Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV 20-12 Tottonians RFC 1st XV
It was ninth versus fourth as Tottonians visited the Paddock for the first time in their history for this rearranged London 1 South fixture.
Sevenoaks 1st XV were without Captain Stuart Coleman, who was unavailable. There was also a further reshuffle needed when Matt Dodd had to withdraw from the match day squad due to a back spasm. Ben Martyr was brought up from the 2nd XV and would end up playing for the full 80 minutes whilst Oaks welcomed back Jonathan Morris and John Henley after a sustained time out due to injuries. Despite concerns earlier in the week of heavy rain forecast, conditions were near perfect at the Paddock as play got underway in front of a hearty crowd.
The opening stanza saw both teams finding their feet, with Oaks going ahead on the scoreboard through an Issac Winter penalty which was well struck from the right of the posts.
Oaks were to go further ahead when young flyer Josh Penney, making his home debut in an Oaks jersey, broke down the right with a forty metre break. Oaks this season have prided themselves on fitness and athleticism, and this was shown none more so that Scott Sedgewick, playing flanker for the day, and Tom Naismith, who combined with Penney to allow second row Naismith to charge over to the delight of the Sevenoaks faithful. Winter made no mistake and added the extras to put the home side 10-0 to the good.
Tottonians were to react, and indeed were to plunder a penalty kick through Searle to bring the score back within seven after an Oaks infringement at the breakdown.
The away side continued to retain possession for the middle of the first half and tested Oaks defence. However each time they were repelled by committed bodies and a bloody mindedness that repelled their counterparts until the half time whistle. Indeed Oaks could have scored another try, with a break down the left hand side of the field, only for fly half Winter to be brought down by the Tottonians covering winger.
The second half saw Oaks start well with a try five minutes in after some excellent build up play including a hard carry up the middle from Simon Humble, some good link play by prop Alex Rolfe and a break by fly half winter saw the ball flung to Sedgewick who showed a clean pair of heals to finish in the corner. The score was unconverted but Oaks now had some breathing space.
Although they still lacked possession, and at times had to scramble to cut off dangerous Tottonians attacking runners, Oaks scored a third, as Dan Phoenix, on for Oliver Shirtcliff, managed to intercept the ball and pop off to Jonny Short. With just the open Paddock in front of him, Short burst down the line and there was no stopping him as he trotted over in the left hand corner. Once again, the conversion went wide, but Oaks were now fifteen points in front.
Having already received two yellow cards in the match, for tackling offences, Oaks were to go down to 14 for the rest of the match, as after a melee at a ruck in midfield, the referee showed a red card for a punch.
With 5 minutes to go, Tottonians were eventually to breach the Oaks line after a number of forays into the 22, bundling over in the right hand corner. Searle kicked an excellent touchline conversion and the visitors not only smelt the opportunity of a bonus point, but perhaps a win.
However Oaks managed to keep them at arms length and as the referee blew the final whistle for the end of the match, signalling an end to a physical, hard fought contest.
After the match , Head Coach Adam Bowman commented 'I'm really pleased with that win. They are fourth in the league and the boys equipped themselves really well. We adapted to the late changes and defended resolutely, taking our chances when they came.'
'We have Gravesend at home next week, who are one point ahead of us in this league and so it will be a really good test to see if we can keep the momentum going against a very good side. But you have to make sure you savour wins like that - I'm really proud of each and every one of the squad who played today. There's still lots to work on but the great thing about this group is that they are hungry to improve, so come Tuesday night, our focus will solely be on the weekend ahead.'
1. D. Power
2. B. Martyr
3. T. Simmonds
4. S. Humble
5. T. Naismith
6. J. Morris
7. S. Sedgewick
8. S. Derrick (C)
9. L. Cook
10. I. Winter
11. J. Short
12. A. Field
13. S. Osgood
14. J. Penney
15. O. Shirtcliff
16. A. Rolfe
17. J. Henley
18. D. Phoenix