The Sevenoaks Senior Squad enjoyed their first pre-season test away at Medway, with a number of new and returning faces making key contributions.
Playing in four twenty minute blocks, the game gave the coaching department an opportunity to try new combinations and put into practice some of the hard work from the previous six weeks of training.
It was the hosts that started brightly with a large share of the possession, but each and every time they were met by aggressive and clinical Oaks defence, led by the back row of Henley, Sinclair and De Smith. Not to be outdone by his former Skinners school mate De Smith, the returning no. 9 Goodhew made a number of crucial turnovers that allowed Oaks to relieve pressure.
Indeed it was the visitors who were to break the deadlock and after Shirtcliff had moved the play down field with a couple of telling kicks, Oaks worked their way to an attacking platform in the 22. With clinical back play, moving through a number of hands, it was the speedster Weston who dashed over to give Oaks the lead.
After a number of heavy midfield tussles, just before the twenty minute break, after a number of minutes knocking at the defensive door, Medway managed to create an overlap, working a three on two which they clinically finished.
Oaks started the second quarter brightly, and after more good hands in the backs, particularly from wing Karg, Shirtcliff showed a clean pair of heals to round his man and go over. However, the referee deemed that the grounding was not clean, and Medway were awarded a 5 metre scrum to relieve pressure. Encouraging signs saw the axis of Suttill and Shirtcliff working well, whilst Rugg and Edwards were looking a dangerous attacking threat.
Oaks once again showed resolute defence and went ahead again after a good drive at the lineout which saw hooker Sedgewick dab the ball over the line. It was just reward for the man who, along with Matt Dodd, was a consistent thorn in the oppositions side all day.
Disappointingly though, Oaks switched off in the final five minutes of the first half, and Medway barrelled their way over to bring the score level once more.
The third quarter saw the home side take control and show the young Oaks what intensity is needed at London 1 level, scoring three well taken tries, including a penalty try.
The final quarter saw Oaks come back into the game and create their best spell of the occasion. After bursts up the field which included some good offloading between De Smith, Short and Goodhew, the Oaks gained an attacking scrum ten metres out. After holding a strong Medway scrum well, Oaks backs showed some sumptuous skill in the backs, as Tree and Shirtcliff worked an opening for Jamie Owen, who cruised in under the posts for the score of the game.
Following on from the match, Head Coach Adam Bowman commented 'Today gave us an opportunity to try new combinations and see where we are in our development. I was really pleased with lots of aspects, against a strong Medway side. However, we are always striving to improve and we have lots to work on in training over the next few weeks.'
'I want to thank Taff Gwilliam and his team for today. Talking after the game, we both agreed it was exactly what both sides needed - a good hard game of rugby with both sides wanting to play some attacking play. We now move onto the Grasshoppers next week, which will pose another challenge for the squad'.
Oaks head to the Grasshoppers tournament next week, which will pose the last test ahead of the first league games of the season, when the 1st play Gosport and Fareham at home, and the 2nd take on Tunbridge Wells away.
Squad: D.Power, S.Sedgewick, T. Simmons, J.Simmons, A. Rolfe, O. Boatwright-Smith, S. Coleman (C), M. Dodd, R. Philpot, D. Sinclair, W. De-Smith, J. Henley, S. Goodhew, A. Suttill, O. Shirtcliff, I. Winter, H.Rugg, A.Edwards, S.Tree, J. Short, C.Karg, M. Weston, O.Dinsmore, J. Owen