‘Disappointed but not distraught’ was how Head Coach Adam Bowman described how he felt after his side went down 17-11 away to Camberley on 9th March. After a twelve game winning streak, Oaks were felled at Camberley. In a match that went back and forth, the Surrey side deservedly walked away victors having repelled Oaks attempts to batter their way over the try line during the second half. There was better news away from the Paddock however, as all three other teams in action managed to garner wins, with the 2nd XV winning at Old Alleynians RFC, the 3rd XV coming out on top at home to Gravesend RFC and the Mighty Gents winning on their travels to Gravesend.
For the 1st XV, a losing bonus point sees them level on points with Camberley and Brighton Blues, whilst Medway’s bonus point win sees them move to one point above the chasing pack. Things just got tighter. ‘It was a hard old game’ said Bowman, reflecting on the match in Surrey. ‘In the first half, we sneaked behind them a couple of times but they scrambled very well and in the second half, we couldn’t break them down. They had a number of chances as well, so on the balance of play we came away with a good point.’
After a big block of tough fixtures, that included local derbies against Medway and Westcombe Park, Oaks have had time to rest bodies before the final run-in, which starts with Havant RFC at the Paddock this Saturday. A rest that Bowman sees as crucial. ‘We have given the boys the week off. It’s important that we come into the last four games ready to give everything. We want them to be ready not just physically, but mentally as well, so the rest week, where they can get away from rugby, is a big part of preparing them for what is to come.’
He continued ‘The last four weeks are going to be Cup Finals each week, so if we are going to be successful, we need the boys to give everything. There won’t be many times when you are going into the last four games with a chance to win a league, so if we are to be at the top end of the leagues, the boys will have to make some sacrifices over the next month to make sure we give it everything.’
To this week’s opponents for the 1st XV, Havant RFC, who Oaks beat in the away fixture with a last minute try and conversion in a dramatic game. ‘We have no doubt that they will be gunning for us this weekend. To lose in the manner that they did against us will probably give them that extra motivation to come to the Paddock and turn us over. They had a really difficult start to the season, playing most of their games away from home, but they are showing everyone what we already knew – that they are a quality side, packed full of talent that will beat any side in this league. We will need to be on our game from minute one through to eighty as they are a team that can hurt you from anywhere. We’ve had some good battles with them over the past couple of seasons so it should be a good match for the neutral, but probably not too good for those of a nervous disposition!’
There is also home action for the Gents, who look to build on their last win when they take on Whistable RFC, whilst the 2nd XV travel the short journey up to Dartfordians RFC.
All the action at the Paddock kicks off at 3pm and Bowman once again is calling on members of the Club and Sevenoaks community to get behind his side. ‘The support against Medway RFC was phenomenal – the players loved it and we really value every single supporter that comes out on Saturday’s to give us a cheer. It really does make a difference. We have two remaining home games and we would ask that as many supporters as possible come down to get behind us – it really could get us over the line.’