Oaks IIs welcomed local rivals Tunbridge Wells to the Paddock on Saturday for a Kent Invicta League 1 clash, Wells looking to make up for a heavy defeat in a pre-season friendly.
Oaks unfortunately were not the team from that day. Ravaged by injuries, it interestingly featured 3 backs in the back row, 2 of whom had never played in the forwards before, and 2 props on the bench, one partly injured and the other having not played for 2 years. To top it all, we lost a starting winger in the warm up.
But despite these issues Oaks were heavily involved in the opening exchanges, indeed looking the stronger team with the out of position backs looking more than comfortable. However, fate determined that this was not to be our day and within 15 minutes we had lost Suttill at scrum half and centre Faye to injury, so our bench was cleared.
Wells took the lead with a penalty, then shortly after strong forward play took them over the line for a 0 – 10 lead at half time.
Oaks were sticking manfully to their task and kept Wells on their toes throughout. A final sub, Dan Scott who had come along to watch but with boots in his car, swapped pint glass for gumshield and put in a solid shift to help the cause.
Oaks threw everything at Wells, eventually rewarded when Cantlay went over wide out and Saunders kicked the extras to close the gap, but a last play penalty kick from Saunders just shaved the under side of the bar and the game was lost.
Every player deserves credit for such a courageous effort, but Walker and new prop Thornber deserve special mentions for their relentless efforts in the loose.
In extreme adversity this team showed great heart and were a credit to themselves and the club.