Tottonians RFC 1st XV 17 - 5 Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV

Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV were on the road last weekend as they travelled to Totton near Southampton to take on fifth placed Tottonians.  The sides had met earlier in the season and played out a 20-20 draw on a balmy day at the Paddock in September last year.  Conditions could not be more different than that day, as heavy rainfall throughout the week prior to the match made conditions extremely challenging for both sides.

Oaks kicked off, playing up a slight incline and against a wind, with both sides trading blows in the opening 10 minutes, with play ended that more often than not led to a spilt ball and turnover due to slippery conditions, a pattern that would define the majority of the game.  It was the home side that would strike first, as a defence error from the Oaks at the line out allowed a powerful Tottonians back the opportunity to run deep into Oaks 22 from the away side ten metre line.  Despite a number of Oaks defenders, a combination of the conditions and also poor tackling allowed the Tottonians player to barge and slide his way over the line.  The relatively simple conversion put Oaks 7-0 down.

Despite making inroads into the home defence and maintaining the majority of possession, Oaks were repelled by robust home tackling and indeed went a further three points down after an excellent converted penalty by the home side fly-half Searle punished Oaks indiscipline.  The remainder of the half was all Oaks though, time and time again bashing their way into the Tottonians defensive wall.  That wall was finally breached through hooker Scotty Sedgwick, who benefitted from a well worked drive from the lineout, dotting down with the home side pack going back at a rate of knots.  As the half came to a close, Oaks, although five points down, felt in control and looked as though, with field position, they may just have the edge.

As conditions for the players worsened in the second half, so did the quality of rugby with both sides understandably making handling errors and sliding off tackles.  Oaks once again had the healthier looking possession and territory stats, but were not able to make real inroads past the Tottonians 22.  The pivotal point in the half came as Totts tried to clear their lines in their 5 metre line.  With the outstanding Josh Pettet charging down the kick, the ball looped into the air and into the Totts try zone.  As Pettet chased to catch the ball, with ball all but in his arms, he was pulled back, allowing Totts to scramble to the loose ball and touch the ball down.  The referee, unsighted in the scramble, awarded a twenty-two drop out to the home side and they were able to relieve the pressure.

To add further insult to injury, two minutes later, Totts made their way deep into the Oaks half after a series of excellent pick and drives.  As Oaks were sucked in defensively, Totts took advantage and through excellent hands made the overlap count to score on the far right hand side of the posts.  The conversion was successful and Oaks had been dealt a sucker punch, with the scores now 17-5.

The rest of the match was played out in between the two ten metre lines.  Try as they might, Oaks just didn’t have the killer blow to make their effort count.  Most dissapointly, they also failed to pick up a point, despite all their efforts.

Post-match, a clearly disappointed & frustrated Adam Bowman said ‘As always the effort from everyone was outstanding and clearly the conditions were tough, but our execution simply wasn’t good enough!  We really need to make sure we take our opportunities when we have sides on the rack.  They scored from the two chances they created and that was the difference between the two sides and it was the same last week against Medway.  I am expecting a reaction this week coming from the squad as we build up for a big game at home against Havant.