Sevenoaks U8s were spread across Southern England on Sunday representing the club at four festivals with 6 squads fielded.

Guildford is one of the toughest festivals played during the season and a useful precursor to the upcoming Kent Festival.  The two teams faced some tough and physical opposition, playing some excellent rugger in the group stages and after the points and try scores had been tallied, both the squads had qualified for their groups’ plate finals.

The first final was against Old Reigatians who bought the game to Sevenoaks in an exciting match, with the first half proving to be a well matched duel.  Ultimately Sevenoaks proved to be too strong in the second half with the downhill advantage and finished 7-4 to take the third place cup.

The next final saw Sevenoaks facing their second Teddington team of the tournament and with consistently strong tagging by both sides, Sevenoaks managed to open the scoring and take the lead just before the half time whistle.  The second half provided more of the same, but with a couple of turnovers the teams were able to add two scores a piece, with Sevenoaks taking the trophy by one try 3-2.

The two squads at Edenbridge faced some physical opposition and struggled to maintain their confidence as a result.  Being hurt with inconsistent tagging and too much focus on restarts, opposition teams took advantage where they could.  But some individual tagging and great running, saw both teams clinch some strong draws and vital wins with one game against Beccehamians seeing an 8-8 draw and informally the match of the tournament.  Sevenoaks faced each other in the plate finals and a 4-4 draw concluded the days events.    

An undefeated squad played their hearts and souls out in Foxbury.  With some low scoring games indicating furious tagging rates, the tempo of the games escalated to a final 4-4 draw against familiar rivals in TJs who ultimately progressed based on tries scored.  With numerous seventh tag turnovers, defence proved to be the key element to performance in the games.

Old Colfeians played host to our sixth squad and saw the squad develop as the day warmed up, with the best game at the end of the tournament.  Despite strong play Sevenoaks lost by only one try against Old Alleynians 5-4 with the opposition finding a way through a gap in the line.

Guildford Team 1

On the back of England beating Wales on Saturday the Sevenoaks A team were oozing with excitement and enthusiasm despite two or three boys still recovering from bugs which had kept them off school for a few days the previous week.

The Team : Edward Smith, Harry Corstorphine, Harry Edwards, Isaac Rossier, Jan Lousberg, Max Clark, Tiger Bussey, William Jenkins and Yiannis Papadopoulos.

Match 1 – Was against Old Reigations (blue) which was a relatively easy win once the boys established some continuity on the attack.  From the outset the tagging was fairly strong with some try saving tags being made and at least two turnovers being won on the 7th tag.  A solid start resulting in a 6 -2 victory for Sevenoaks.  

Tries: Harry E 2, Edward 1, Isaac 1, William 1, Yiannis 1.

Match 2 – Next up was Windsor who we lost to 5 – 6 at the Saracens qualifiers back in the Autumn.  So with a very similar team fielded this was a bit of a “bench mark” game to see how we have progressed over the season.  From the first to last whistle it was a very closely contested match with some excellent tagging by both sides.  Occasionally our faster runners became isolated as the support did not follow up as closely as it should have done which meant some try opportunities could not be exploited to potentially win the match, but on balance a 5 – 5 draw was a fair result and a better score than we achieved against Windsor in the Autumn.  So we have improved since the Autumn !!.

Tries: Harry C 1, Harry E 1, Edward 1, Isaac 1, Yiannis 1.

Match 3 – This was always going to be the toughest of our encounters on the day, since Roslyn Park are a very large South West London based 1stdivision club.  When Sevenoaks were attacking, the Roslyn Park defence was up on our runners very quickly putting an immense amount of pressure on Sevenoaks.  Additionally,  on tagging Roslyn Park were not taking a step back so they were technically offside which made it virtually impossible at times to counter attack effectively, which resulted in 7 tag turnovers against Sevenoaks on at least two occasions. However, the commitment from the team was exemplary and the fact it was a relatively low scoring game with only a 2 – 4 loss to Roslyn Park was testament to the effort and ability of the players.

Tries: Yiannis 2.

Match 4 – Was against Dorking and was to be the real test of our metal.  With one win, one draw and one loss so far, the odds were probably stacked against us for bagging a 4th place finish/ play off from the group stage given there was a total of 14 teams in the pool.  With this in mind, our one simple message to the boys was to go out there and score as many tries as you can – so do not hold back !!.  From the start the game was played at a fairly fast pace and whilst there were a few slightly over ambitious / loose passes made which went to ground and had to be scooped up by some inspirational support play, no nock on’s or forward passes were incurred and coupled with some 7 tag turnovers for Sevenoaks they managed to run up a 11 – 5 win which gave us the try difference we needed to secure a 3rd / 4th positon play off.

Tries; Harry C 2, Harry E 3, Max 1, Edward 1, Jan 1, Yiannis 1, Tiger 2

3rd / 4th Play off – This was against Old Reigations (Green).  From the outset Sevenoaks A put in a cracking team performance with some superb attacking  and defensive skills being applied by all.  Whilst a fairly close game in the first half with Sevenoaks playing uphill and into the sun they exploited the downhill and sun behind advantage in the second half to ease a 7 – 4 victory at the final whistle.

Tries: Harry E 1, Edward 2, William 1, Yiannis 2, Tiger 1

In summary, given at least two boys were not 100% due to bugs and we were up against some strong opposition this was a great effort and achievement.  The other pertinent point to make from the coaches perspective is that this was a real team effort as the balance of tries scored by each of the scorers was fairly level showing the versatility and adaptability of the players to work as a team and not just as “able” individuals.  Let’s step it up a notch next Sunday at the Kent qualifiers!!.

 Guildford Team 2

Two teams from Sevenoaks headed west through Sunday’s early morning mist to one of our toughest events, the Old Guildfordians Festival.  Braving the hour and the morning chill for Sevenoaks 2 were Alexander Paizes, Barnaby Burns, Ediz Karsak, George Rehbein, Hugo Smith, Lucas Gorrill, Luke Coll, Raphael Landgrebe, Stein Russell-Jones. Sadly, despite a brave effort on his part, Luke Coll had to retire early through ill health. We look forward to Luke’s return and performances in future festivals when he is fully recovered.

Game 1: Sevenoaks 2: 8, Old Reigatians Green: 2

With a chill in the air Sevenoaks 2 took to the less than horizontal pitch to face Old Reigatians and acquitted themselves wonderfully!  Some impressive support work and accomplished tagging ensured that our lads took an early lead and dominated throughout the game.  Determined tagging by Barnaby, some spectacular displays of running straight by Raphael and a concerted effort by all resulted in the best possible start for our festival.

Try scorers were:

Barnaby: 4 Hugo: 3 Raphael: 1

Game 2: Sevenoaks 2: 5, Windsor: 8

We had met Windsor during the Alliance Cup Qualifiers at Twickenham and knew they were going to be tough opponents, and we weren’t wrong.  A number of missed key tags and the reappearance of an old gremlin in the form of falling back from the opposition didn’t help our cause.  However, there were moments of brilliance, such as our final try, the last try of the game.  The sequence started with Barnaby finding and exploiting a gap in Windsor’s line, closely supported by George, Barnaby was able to comfortably off load when his tag was taken.  George in turn was able to push forward and pop the ball up for Raphael who came down the touchline at full speed for an unstoppable try in the near corner.

During what was a frustrating and sometimes physical game our players held true to the values of observing the rules and fair play that are important at our Club.

Try scorers were:

Barnaby: 2 George: 2 Raphael: 1

Game 3: Sevenoaks 2: 8, Hazelmere: 3

With the sun starting to break through and warm the ground, suddenly it all started to come together.  A revitalised Sevenoaks took to the pitch, and did just about everything right.  Tagging was relentless, particularly by Alexander, and resulted in 2 7th-tag turnovers.  The support given to the ball carrier was excellent, meaning there were always options, which was reflected by the number of try scorers.  Stein earned himself the title ‘snake-hips’ after being the first receiver, threading his way through the entire Hazelmere team and scoring!  A very impressive effort by the whole team.

Try scorers were:

Alexander: 1 Barnaby: 2 George: 2 Raphael: 2 Stein: 1

Game 4: Sevenoaks 2: 4, Teddington: 3

Teddington were a big, well-disciplined and well supported team, which lead to a well matched, closely contested game.  It was try for try during the first half, with Sevenoaks’ tagging again proving too effective for the opposition. A couple of bumps during the first half led to a timely and wise briefing from the referee that was appreciated by all coaches.

The second half saw more close support, and a wonderful display of scoring by running straight from Lucas, and as the clock ran out our boys had held a one try lead, and a place in 3rd / 4th play-off!

Try scorers were:

Barnaby: 1 George: 1 Lucas: 1 Raphael: 1

3rd /4th Play-off: Sevenoaks 2: 3, Teddington: 2

With the festival wrapping up all around us, Sevenoaks 2 ran out to face the second Teddington team of the day and again it was a closely contested game.  Both Sevenoaks and Teddington’s tagging was particularly effective, leading to almost stalemate in the early stages of the game.  The first half was almost over before Sevenoaks managed to open the scoring and take the lead.  A marvellous tagging effort led to a 7th-tag turnover practically on our try line, but handling errors at the restart had coaches hearts in their mouths.  Despite that, Lucas managed to sneak in the final deciding try and our players came away victors at the final whistle, to the admiration of coaches and parents alike.

Try scorers were:

Lucas: 1 Raphael: 2

Foxbury

Sevenoaks went to the Foxbury Festival on a cold and foggy morning.

First up were Old Whitgiftians and Sevenoaks were straight out of the blocks for a change. The passing and play was excellent, so much so the Coaches really did not have much to say at half time and in the end Sevenoaks ran out winners 5-3.

Up next were Vigo who were a small and well drilled unit, forcing turnovers on the 7 tag rule.  Sevenoaks were struggling to make easy passes to each other forcing more turnovers.  Vigo fell afoul of the touch line a couple of times and so the game ended in a 2-2 draw.

Old Alleynians were up next but with a reduced squad we agreed to play five aside.  The extra space proved to be Sevenoaks undoing as gaps that had been closed between our line defence opened up to the 2 very quick runners that OA had.  Sevenoaks started to pass more sympathetically and that helped Sevenoaks with some great running and interplay. The game ended in a 3-3 draw.

As the sun warmed us up so did the temperature of the games.  Old rivals TJ`s were up next and both teams turned on the power and tagging.  Sevenoaks managed at least three 7 tag turnovers by pushing the opposition back - small gaps made the difference and these gaps were exploited by both sides in the best game we have seen all day. Final score 4-4

All in all a good day for the team who ended up undefeated, only failing to progress to the next round on try count.  The Coaches were very happy with the team who all listened and implemented what we asked – and the team seemed to be happy at the end of the day.

Team:

Aidan Moore, Arthur Trussler (1), Callum Le Roux (2), Elliot Soong (3), Hector MacGregor (5), Josh McClinton (1), Sam Pearl (2), William Blackmore, Zach Owen

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Old Colfeians

It was a tough day at the office for Sevenoaks at Old Colfs.

Players were:

Andy Crawford, Finnbar Dalton, Louis Prade, Priam Van Assche, Thomas Kerton and Toby Edwards.

Absent were:

Coby Smith and Jamie Robinson.

First game against Cranbrook was a high scoring game for both teams but unfortunately we just didn’t score enough.  The opposition were very well drilled and made two 7 tag turnovers. Our boys were still very bunched up and the pitch was bigger than played on in the past. Final score was 6-9.

Second game against old Colfeians was a slightly tighter affair.  The boys played better in this game and were much more focused.  Better tagging and some good support play saw us lose 4-2.  We were still running into touch on occasions, which resulted in turn over ball.

Our third game against Bromley resulted in our heaviest defeat.  We were against a very well drilled team and were caught napping on a few occasions with some missed tags at vital times in the game resulting in a 6-2 defeat.  Many lesson to be learnt here; lack of tagging; not coming up as a line.

Our fourth game against Old Alleynians was by far our best.  The boys were more focused and made some great tags.  The narrow loss in this game was purely down to not defending as a line - we waited for them to come to us and it cost us dearly.  Final result was 5-4 to the opposition.

Well played to all the boys, definitely looked stronger as the day went on.

Edenbridge Team 1

A fantastic day for rugby!  The team worked really well together and improved with every game.  We asked you to work on your line speed in defence, and to concentrate on passing and receiving the ball whilst moving forward.  Both of these improved significantly throughout the day, and in particular our speed onto the ball.  Well done everyone.

Match 1 Vs Tunbridge Wells - Draw 6 – 6

Match 2 Vs Edenbridge – Won 5 – 4

Match 3 Vs Tonbridge Juddians – Lost 4 – 7

Match 4 Vs Sidcup – Lost 5 – 6

Shield Final Vs Sevenoaks 2 – Draw 4 - 4

Ethan - Amazing evasive running in attack to grab a bag full of scores.  A fabulous steal from a loose ball on the floor to turnover and score again.  Consistently great tagging.  Do not run back to defend!  Run forward with the rest of your team to put pressure on the opposition.  We don’t have enough players to lose an effective tagger to full back.  Stay on your feet when tagging, to become useful on the next phase.

Fergus - A great effort in what we think was your first tournament.  Really good strong running when you had the ball, with effective passing to your team, well done.  Be louder in attack to make sure your team mates know you are in a position to receive the ball.  Be more confident in defence, really rush up to grab those tags.

Finlay - Lovely support running in open play, which resulted in some great scores.  Really excellent with the ball in hand, with some lovely off-loads.  Push up in defence, make sure you keep in line with your team mates.  Look up to see where the attacking team and move in to a defensive position early, don’t stand behind a team mate.

Forbes - Fabulous organising in both attack and defence.  You were consistently the first up to take a tag after a re-start.  Brilliant tagging throughout the festival.  Strong running with the ball in hand and some great off-loads whilst moving.  Run with the ball in two hands to keep give yourself more options and keep the defence guessing.  Remember not to defend your tags! Stay away from the touch line, push away from the line and run in-field.

Georgia - Great organising, particularly in defence.  Consistently good support running throughout the tournament, with a couple of excellent catches when moving at pace, to score.  Try to place your feet closer to the defender before reaching for the tag to give yourself a better opportunity for success.

Isaac - You took a while to warm up, but your speed on the ball was fantastic in the last game, as well as your tagging.  Try to remain focused from the first game.  Stay away from the touch line, step away and run in-field.

Leo - Good strong straight running.  A fantastic try from kick-off straight through the defence.  Good consistent tagging.  Don’t sneak in between team mates from the kick off.  Find some space, and be a support runner ready to receive the pace after the first tag.

Nick - Great strong running when you had the ball, making excellent ground up the pitch, with effective passing.  Work hard in defence to stay on-side, remember to take a step back after taking a tag, and move to be between the ball and your try line.

Simba - Brilliant evasive running, with a great side step to dodge past the defence.  Lovely support running to give us more options in attack.  Be closer to the attacking side when trying to take a tag.  Be more vocal as a support runner to make sure your team mates know you are ready to receive a pass.

Edenbridge Team 2

A good morning with a Shield trophy to share with Sevenoaks 1

The same issues arose – needing to be quicker to bring the line up on restarts and more focus on tagging.  We also still suffer from too many handling errors - some of our players still get so excited at restarts that they forget where to pass or how to catch a ball.

We are also seeing other sides are making contact rather than tagging and offside is simply not being enforced.  Consistency across refereeing is the key here.

We drew 6-6 with Edenbridge in our first match, which we really should have won but let ourselves down with poor tagging and not bringing up the line.

We then faced a very physical Warlingham team. The official score was 0-6.  Tagging really cost us.  We also faced some difficult ref decisions and had our confidence depleted through the level of physicality in the game.

Our third match was against TJs.  We played much better with some really good tagging, narrowly losing 4-6.  Mackenzie Copps tagging was notable.

Our fourth match was an 8-8 draw against Becchamians. The Edenbridge referee declared it the best match of the tournament with lots of running and tagging from both sides with 4 of our players making it on to the scoresheet.

Our Shield final was against Sevenoaks 1.  A really good game with both sides running well ultimately resulting in a 4-4 draw. 

We definitely have work to do. On reflection, a few sides seemed to field stronger sides than others making it difficult to compete against markedly different abilities.  We do know what we need to focus on and there were some excellent passages of play at times.

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