Acorns win Late Red Veterans Trophy


SEVENOAKS Acorns scraped home by a single point to win the Kent Veterans' Cup final against Tunbridge Wells Vets, 29-28.

Wells attacked hard in the first five minutes, only to be repelled by strong defence. This led to a good Tommy Kelly turnover, which gave the backs a chance to run at their opponents. Quick ball followed to the wing, with Del McCrone scoring in the corner, a superb conversion from Mark Reay securing first blood to the Acorns: 7-0.

During the next 15 minutes, Wells turned up the pressure and were camped in Oaks' 22, but resolute defence held them out. A wild pass by the Wells number ten was intercepted by Acorns' inside centre and skipper Miles Hawayward, who found Mike Benicchi and he ran half the length of the pitch to score, Steve Carrick converting: 14-0.

Wells, unfazed, came back twice as hard and scored three tries in quick succession to go 21-14 ahead as the first half closed.

Acorns lost number eight Will Thorpe to a suspected broken collar bone. Oaks re-grouped at half time with the aim of keeping play in Wells' half and with the kicking prowess of George Roffey and Mark Reay that happened.

A cracking start from the Acorns put pressure on Wells from the off with lock Malcolm McCulloch catching their kick-off and beating three defenders to take play back to the half-way line. Quick-thinking scrum-half George Roffey darted down the blindside to run in Oaks' third try, while the touch-line conversion from Reay was immaculate: 21-21.

The game could have gone either way, but Acorns' defence was brilliant. The constant kick and chase by wingers Steve Carrick and Leon Galler put tremendous pressure in the right area of the park. This led to a penalty against Wells from just inside halfway. Mark Reay stepped up and nailed it, the ball sailing clear through the uprights: 24-21.

Acorns then found another gear and, with prop ChiChi Shirtcliff stabilising the scrums, produced some great pick-and-drives, which led to the fourth try. Reay went through a gap and sprinted down the touchline, supported by Rob Furr, who received the pass and went over, although the conversion was missed: 29-21.

Wells renewed their attack, but one of the pack was sent to the sin-bin, leaving the Acorns with 14 men and five minutes to go. With the last play of the game, the Acorns had a scrum on their own 5m line. Oaks lost the scrum and Wells scored in the corner with an excellent conversion.

Sevenoaks Acorns had won by one point, the years rolling back for this group of men in their 40s and 50s.

Special thanks go to Billy Park for managing the team this season and for all the wonderful support Sevenoaks received on the day.

Squad: ChiChi Shirtcliff, Jack Mortassagne, Rob Furr, Alex Manley, Rob Thurnell, Pippy Woolacott, Malc McCulloch, Adam Hutcheson, Nick Emmins, Dave Sellors, Jonny Raynor, Tommy Kelly, Rupert Daniell, Will Thorpe, Deon French, George Roffey, Steve Carrick, Mark Reay, Miles Haywood, Mik Bernicchi, Del McCrone, Andy Furr, Leon Galler, Simon Wright, Billy Park.