Three squads travelled to Twickenham, the home of English Rugby on Saturday for the first of two rounds of qualifying for the prestigious Saracens Tournament.
The tournament is London based so Sevenoaks were fortunate to face some very tough new opposition as well as our usual Kent comrades in Dartford and Medway. All the games were fast flowing and high scoring with all three squads having to play to their best rugger, bagging good results all round with 8 wins, 1 draw and 3 losses. The two key elements as usual were consistent tagging and straight running, highlighted even more so against the tougher teams. The seventh tag turnover being the deciding factor in a couple of the games.
The 19th December will see Sevenoaks fielding two more squads in to the qualifying process, this time held at Saracens home ground, Allianz Park, ahead of Saracens facing Oyonnax in their European qualifier.
We now wait to find out which squads have qualified to the finals held at Allianz Park in the new year.
All 3 teams qualified for the next stage of the Saracens competitions - so will be going back on the 20th Feb16 for the Finals - well done to them all!!!
Short Video: https://youtu.be/O5QR-TdbXPE
It was a beautifully clear, crisp morning as Sevenoaks 1 arrived at the home of English rugby. With the mercury hovering around 5c and the wind cutting across the pitches, the squad consisting of Barnaby Burns, Edward Smith, Isaac Rosier, Jan Lousberg, Josh McClinton, Luke Coll, Max Clark, Raphael Landgrebe and Xavier Prongue faced some tough challengers as well as knocks to both their confidence and person. However, they would end the day with 2 solid wins and 2 unfortunate defeats.
Game 1: Sevenoaks 1: 5 – Windsor A: 6
Sevenoaks U8’s often seem to have to blow away the cobwebs during the first half of their first game, but not here. The boys put in a tremendous start, with defensive pressure from the first whistle forcing a turnover and Sevenoaks getting the first points on the board. From there it was almost try for try in a hard fought and often quite physical game against a well-disciplined opposition. Unfortunately, our boys fell foul of a touchline blind spot close to the oppositions try line. The result was one too many turnovers against Sevenoaks and the clock ran out before we would redress the balance.
Try scorers were: Isaac (1),Jan (1), Luke (1), Max (2)
Game 2: Sevenoaks 1: 2 – Old Albanians: 5
The boys had been involved in a number of contacts during game 1, and although they took to the field for game 2 with stoic determination, it was clear from the performance that their confidence had been knocked. A reluctance to close on their opponents resulted in numerous missed tags, combined with some regrettable handling errors, that were fully exploited by a very talented opposition, meant the game got away from us. Nobody felt the disappoint more than our 9, which is a testimony to the passion they have for the game and their club.
Try scorers were: Jan (2)
Game 3: Sevenoaks 1: 6 – Chipping Norton 1: 5
The restorative properties of hot chocolate, cheese sandwiches, apples, nuts and sugar worked some magic as we moved into the afternoon and our 3rd game. The boys had appeared to put the morning’s experiences behind them and came out with renewed determination. But despite that effort, Sevenoaks were trailing half way through the game (there was no half time, with games lasting 11 minutes straight through). But we hung on and with a renewed confidence tags fell, space was found and support forever present, taking Sevenoaks 1 to their first victory of the day.
Try scorers were: Edward (1),Jan (1), Luke (3), Max (1)
Game 4: Sevenoaks 1: 6 – Alton A: 4
Well, there was no stopping us now. Spirits were up and everyone wanted a chance to get onto the pitch. Sevenoaks dominated the final game of the day almost from the word 'play'. We did still lose advantage by running in to touch on the odd occasion, which your coaching team will be addressing, but in the main Sevenoaks looked strong and in command.
Try scorers were: Isaac (1), Luke (1), Max (2), Raphael (2)
In summary, it was a tough day for Sevenoaks 1. We only seemed to find our stride halfway through the day and could have done with another couple of games to show what we were really made of. Whilst we have to wait to see if the team will progress to the finals, the boys showed great courage and stamina in tough conditions against some impressive opponents. As we know, it takes something special to suffer defeat yet return to the field and try again. We are proud of you boys!
After an hours drive around the M25 to the Saracens Festival Qualifiers, this time clockwise towards Twickenham, Sevenoaks 2 donned their kit in preparation for 4 games against untried teams.
A brief warm up, a clash of heads, an Ambulance visit plus the ‘Headcase’ concussion protocol, a now 8 man playing squad (and now an extra coach) was ready for whatever West London had to throw at them. The cold wind was not enhanced by rain, so the excellent cold weather gear preparation was paying off, with the boys keeping warm between the physical exertions.
We faced four great teams and it was clear from the outset that tagging would be the focus of the day. The usual ‘tit for tat’ try scoring would not be sufficient, with the hope of the odd turnover ball allowing a win by a single score. So the boys had to step in to the game and head off the attack, to rush defend their line and take match to the opposition. Every player made crucial tags throughout the games and twice we saw how important the ‘7th TAG Turnover’ is.
Our first game was against Windsor B and a heart-breaking carry of the ball in to the dead area was netted off nicely by Windsor doing the same at the other end. Easy mistakes to make in the first game on a ‘coned out’ pitch. Strong tagging forced turnovers through unforced errors and driving opponents to touch. After the 11 minutes Sevenoaks took victory 5-3.
The second game had a similar flavour against Old Albanians B. Clearly a worthy adversary with a decent and well organised squad. A lead was taken on our first seven tag turnover of the day and Sevenoaks managed to maintain it to take the win 7-5.
Chipping Norton 2 were to be our third game and a very equal match ensued. A few ‘sweeping’ and a couple of ‘straight to touch’ runs saw turnover balls hurt our flow and we also seemed to develop cold fingers that hurt our previously strong tagging. But at the final whistle, both teams walked away happy with a 7-7 draw, with 14 tries showing the pace of the game through the whole 11 minutes – the crowd were ecstatic!
Our final game of the day was against Alton B and a ‘seventh tag turnover’ again made the difference, once again allowing us to creep a lead that we managed to hold firm. A 5-3 victory drew the days games to a close and the hope that enough has been done to proceed to the next round.
Squad: Forbes Logan (2), George Rehbein, Harry Edwards (4), Hugo Smith, Louis Prade (1), Lucas Gorrill, Sam Pearl (1), Tiger Bussey (7), Yiannis Papadopoulos (9)
Our first game against Marlow RFC was a wakeup call to our boys. We seemed a little sleepy, not listening to the ref and not reacting to our oppositions quick actions – this saw us on the back foot early in the game. After a little while the boys really seemed to switch on and started working together as a team and managed to score some great tries. The game finished 6-3 to Marlow.
In our second game we faced Old Albanians 3 and showed our boys had learnt from the first game and were switched on from the beginning. They showed great support play and were reacting much faster, running back to the centre after each try and always facing the opposition. All their hard work paid off and they were rewarded with a convincing 8-3 victory.
The third match against Chipping Norton 3 was a repeat performance from the boys. They all worked very hard and the team effort they put in really showed, resulting in 5 different members of the team scoring tries and final score a convincing 7-3 win.
Our fourth and final game against Alton C proved to be our toughest and most tense. We were against a very well drilled and disciplined side. They held the early lead, but to our boys credit they fought back. They made some great turn over opportunities and capitalised on any spilled balls. They really gave it their best and were once again rewarded with a convincing win. Final score 8-4 in our favour, although it felt a lot closer.
Well done to all the boys today, both Charlie and I could not be more proud of you. You listened and learnt and all played as a team. It was because you played as a team that you won your matches. Well done!!!
As there were no first and second halves as such we apologise to any boy who feels he did not get as much playing time as some of his team mates, as coaches we tried to make it as fair as possible but we don’t always get it right.
Squad: Coby Smith (1), Callum Le Roux (6), Harry Corstorphine (11), Harvey Head, Jamie Williams (1), Mac Copp (3), Priam Van Assche, Toby Edwards (1), William Jenkins (2)