Blackheath 8th October
Team: Tyler O’Reilly, Theo Maltarp, James Sumner, Zac Williamson, Edward Blackmore
Match 1 vs Whitgiftians 1
The first match was against a well-drilled Whitgiftians side. The match started off at pace and stayed that way throughout the whole game. Sevenoaks were a bit slow in getting into their tagging but this improved throughout the game with the second half much better than the first. It was a high-scoring game with tries being traded blow for blow and the score remaining very close throughout. There was some good running from Zac and James who were both running forward, picking good angles and finding holes in the Whitgiftian defence. We showed very good discipline throughout the game and it was eventually won after we got a turnover after a Whitgiftian player was penalised. The final whistle blew at 10-9 to Sevenoaks, which was lucky as the coaches were running out of fingers to count on.
Match 2 vs Hampstead
After a good first game Sevenoaks went into their second game in confident mood, playing Kings College Pirates (or so we thought – it was actually Hampstead). This confident mood was apparent from the whistle when Sevenoaks dominated Kings College (sorry, Hampstead). The tagging and pressure was much better than in the first game, particularly in the first half, with Sevenoaks pushing up hard, tagging well, and forcing Hampstead backwards. This pressure resulted in a number of missed passes for Hampstead which Sevenoaks capitalised on with some good pick ups. We saw some great tagging from Theo and Tyler and the support of the runners became more effective. In the second half, Hampstead got back into the game and managed to claw back a few points after our tagging discipline slipped a bit. But Sevenoaks held on for the win, beating Hampstead 6-5.
Match 3 vs Tonbridge Judds
This game was all about tagging. Judds started off tagging well but Sevenoaks showed great discipline and composure, waiting for the support and passing well to their team mates. Zac got some good runs into the corner and James was a tagging ninja, pushing up hard and putting the other team under pressure. Theo scored a great try after he picked up a wayward ball on the bounce and bolted for the corner. Tiredness was beginning to show on both teams and there were a few turnovers in the second half. But Sevenoaks held their nerve and generally came out on top of the loose balls, to win the match 10 to 8
Match 4 vs Blackheath
The fourth match was against Blackheath. Blackheath had a very simple game plan: pass the ball to the fast kid, score try, repeat. Blackheath therefore got off to a good start. Our passing wasn’t as good as it should have been which meant a few dropped passes and the resulting turnovers. By half time we were trailing by a few points but the whole team rallied round well after Coach Mark gave a rousing half time team talk that was reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Henry V. Sevenoaks did then “stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide”. Some good running and support work from Eddie helped us claw back some of the deficit but time was not our friend and the whistle blew at 6 to 8
Match 5 vs Blackheath 3
The team left the best for last and finished the tournament on a high. There was some great support running from Eddie, which gave him a nice try in the corner after Zac got tagged and he was in the perfect place to receive a quick pop-pass. Tyler had really gained in confidence by this point and when given the ball ran straight and forward, passing the ball nicely when tagged. This match was all about great team work. There was fantastic support when attacking and strong defensive tagging from everyone which meant Sevenoaks beat what was very strong opposition. The final score was 8 to 7.
After a traumatic week for selection, 6 names were on the team sheet;
James Daniell, George Coulter, Wian Botes, Noah Hagger, Henry Birkett and Harrison Curd, and each was itching for action on a cool Saturday morning in SE London at Blackheath’s junior festival.
The Sevenoaks lads took a little while to make the jump from their familiar Sunday morning environment to festival match conditions and conceded early points in their first contest despite valiant tagging attempts. However, they grew into the game and Henry scored a great try, despite an inadvertent clunk of heads with a robust opposition player, which seemed to break the flow of the game and settle the Sevenoaks team; although they could not quite pull back the deficit. Still it was all happy faces at the end as they lined up for the traditional three cheers and handshakes.
The boys proved to be fast learners, taking heart from their second half performance; they stepped it up for the remaining four matches. Remembering training up at the club; they took it upon themselves to set up some splendid defensive lines and the result was tag-tastic! Great awareness, speed of foot and bravery saw many an attack thwarted by some accurate tagging. Such pressure can lead to panic passing; from which opposition players suffered at times. This only helped boost Sevenoaks' morale.
Not only did the boys set up well; their solid defence gave them confidence and when presented with an opportunity to attack they performed brilliantly with ball in hand. Brains were switched on; pausing before passing, getting into accessible supporting positions ready for a pass; they also quickly spotted space and accelerated into it which was a delight to watch and proved to be a winning formula for the remainder of the festival.
The goal of these events is for everyone to come away smiling and the coaches certainly were. It was really encouraging to see the team’s awareness; Wian’s mazy running, Harrison eluding taggers to get into the corners and some lovely dodging and darting from George, Noah and Henry who all managed to elude their courageous opponents to touch down. But tries are the icing on the cake; tagging and support play are essential. Henry led the way with his focus and tenacious attitude, Noah and George were both heavily involved too and this rubbed off on James who tagged well and also helped release his team mates into gaps with some accurate passing. Wian and Harrison showed they are not just try scoring machines and made some super tags to make this a successful team performance overall.
Old Whitgiftians L
Old Dunstonians W
Tunbridge Wells W