All eyes in London 1 South point to the Paddock this weekend. The top two, Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV and Medway RFC 1st XV will lock horns for the second time this season, with both teams knowing victory will edge them in front of the other in the title race.
With all that said, victory by no means guarantees promotion, or even a play-off place, such is the league table, with Brighton Blues and Camberley both well and truly hot on the heels of Oaks and Medway. But what a match it proves to be at the weekend. Both sides are unbeaten this year, with Medway’s last loss coming at home to Brighton Blues in December, whilst the last time Oaks were on the wrong side of a result was against the men they face on Saturday in November. A real treat in store for those turning up to the Paddock then,
‘Of course it’s a big game’ said Head Coach Adam Bowman, ‘but we can’t get too carried away about the importance of it. Every game between now and the end of the season is going to be huge. We are no longer under the radar in this league and so every team we now play will be out to topple us and based on the past couple of weeks, we will need to raise our performance by 20% at least. Training so far this week has been focused, which I would expect ahead of a top of the table clash but we need to ensure that we continue with attitude between now and the end of the season.’
Oaks were blown away by a Medway purple patch in November, before coming back into the game in the last twenty minutes. It’s clear that the Head Coach knows that Oaks need to maintain concentration throughout the contest to be in with a chance of victory. ‘I think I said before the last time we met, that if we switched off, then Medway would punish us and fair play to them, they certainly did that. They are an excellent outfit and it’s a challenge we are really excited about. Away at their place, between the 15 and 65 minute mark, they dominated the game really and we did well to come away with a bonus point after scoring four tries. We need to play with a positive intent, like we did away in the last 15 minutes and try and stop them building momentum, as once they get going, they are very difficult to stop.’
It’s not just the 1st XV that face the men from Priestfields. Oaks 2nd XV, 3rd and Gents are all in action against the same opposition, with the 2nd and Gents away and the 3rd XV joining the 1st XV in hosting Medway at the Paddock. All Oaks sides continue to compete towards the top end of their league and Bowman says that competition for places is contributing heavily to the Senior sides success. ‘The great thing is, that selection is actually causing us more headaches than ever before. Usually, at this point in the season, it can be quite difficult for sides because of injuries and availability – but due to a number of factors, particularly our excellent medical dept., we have a healthy number of players available. A lot of work goes into it and its meant that our squad has been able to compete on all fronts – the coaching, the medical, the off field activities like socials that the players drive themselves. It’s an environment that we have worked hard to create and we are enjoying being part of. The players are hungry and want that starting shirt, which has in-turn driven competition within the squad, to a level that I haven’t known before.’
He continued ‘I am proud really proud of the senior sides and the attitude and culture the guys are creating. Saturday is going to be another exciting day for all the sides and I hope we are able to put in performances that rewards the players for all their hard work.’