Cergy Pontoise 10 Sevenoaks 36
Last weekend saw Sevenoaks venture across the channel to play Cergy Pontoise RFC . Sevenoaks and Pontoise have been twinned since the early 1960’s but haven’t played at 1st XV level since 1986. The lack of recent history meant that both teams were taking a huge step into the unknown, with the key question being could Oaks cope playing against a side who are two steps further up the notional International rugby ladder.
The teams took to the field on a beautiful Parisian afternoon for this England v France encounter in front of a vocal and somewhat partisan home crowd. The home side took centre stage early and put the visitors under significant pressure for the first 10 minutes without ever really threatening the Oaks line. Once English heads had cleared from the initial onslaught the boys from the Paddock began to gain more of a foothold in the game and created a number of chances before opening the scoring with a try from Power who barrelled over from close range.
Two further first half scores from scrum half Shirtcliff and the tireless Desmith sandwiched a lone French score and left the scoreboard reading 17-5 to visitors at the turn. Oaks, taking confidence from an excellent first stanza, stepped on the gas in the second half and quickly registered another try through Man of the Match Vaihu with fly half Winter adding the extras. With the physicality increasing throughout the piece Oaks consistently won the gain line battle and although the visitors had rung the changes it was somewhat of a surprise, with 15 minutes left on the clock, when Pontoise narrowed the margin to 12 points with a power try of their own.
Instead of retreating into their shell and trying to protect a lead, Oaks went onto the attack and registered two more good scores through Winter and Naismith making the final score 36-10 to ‘Les Rosbif’s’. Team Manager Jon Muchmore was delighted with the Oaks effort after the game commenting ‘ This was always going to be a tough fixture for us. Travelling on Saturday and playing on Sunday left the team with a lot of time to kill and whilst they enjoyed the sights of Paris it can be difficult to retain focus. However, after the first ten minutes I thought the boys went well. We were missing a number of experienced bodies this weekend but those that stepped in really put their hands up for the first league game on the 19th. This was Winter’s first proper run out for us and he was excellent, especially bearing in mind he has to take over from Sam Bright who did so well for us last term. We do have things to work on but we are further forward this year than at the same stage last season.’
Squad: Charlie Naismith, Sam Vizard, Fred Richardson, Dan Power, Kelly Anderson, Stuart Coleman, Ollie Robinson, Tom Swallow, Josh Baldock, Will Desmith, Jack Walker, Ollie Shirtcliff, Isaac winter, Matt Dodd, Jack Thomson, Atino Vaihu, Simon Tree, Robbie Unwin, Cormac Barry and Ben Hoekstra