Deal 18 Sevenoaks 10
Last Saturday saw Oaks lose their first game in 2016 and their second this season. The opponents were Deal and Betteshanger and the venue was the Canada Road ground. This loss, combined with a comfortable victory for promotion rivals Tunbridge Wells means that Oaks season appears to be headed for the play off on April 30th rather than automatic promotion.
In grim conditions, on a tiny sodden pitch both sides ground out a dull and uninspiring, scoreless first half. As the referee blew the whistle for half time yet another bout of niggle broke out that saw Oaks half back Shirtcliff sent to the bin to cool his heels for ten minutes. Immediately upon the restart, Deal put the ball through the hands to exploit the Oaks deficit in numbers. Oaks centre Vaihu attempted to intercept the pass but managed only to knock the ball on. This resulted in a second yellow card for Oaks and a three point lead for Deal from the ensuing penalty.
Oaks defended valiantly for over twelve minutes with thirteen men but just as players were about to return to the pitch Deal registered their first try to take them to an 8-0 lead. Oaks now back at full strength quickly established a better foothold in the game scoring ten unanswered points, through a try from Dodd and a penalty and conversion from Winter. With two minutes left on the clock Oaks looked as though they had got out of jail with a fortuitous win but as Deal pressed Oaks gave away a needless penalty that let the Deal kicker make the play of the day and effectively sealing victory with an outstanding kick. As time expired and with Oaks running the ball from under their own posts Deal capitalised on yet another Oaks error to make the final score 18-10 to the home side.
After the game 1st XV Manager Jon Muchmore commented ‘All credit to Deal today, their defence and set piece were outstanding. That said I was hugely disappointed with our effort today. You know what to expect when you travel here in February and it is more of a mental challenge than a skill one. You have to be able to cope with all the ancillary elements that you get here, the tiny pitch, the crowd and a committed opponent that is always looking to test your mettle. We showed a lack of composure in all areas and our game management was poor and the first yellow at the half was crucial as it gave them real self belief. The only high point for us today was the debut from young loose head James Simmons who was outstanding on his senior debut for the club’