London Cornish RFC 1st XV 10 - 27 Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV

Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV posted arguably their finest away performance away from home on Saturday at fifth placed London Cornish RFC.

On a good playing surface, Oaks kicked to Cornish to start the game and the tone for the Oaks performance was set by prop Daniel Power who smashed back one of his front five opponents with a thunderous hit.

Centre Nigel Gumbleton, pictured here in action against Tottonians, had an excellent match against Cornish.  Photo Credit: David Purday

Centre Nigel Gumbleton, pictured here in action against Tottonians, had an excellent match against Cornish.  Photo Credit: David Purday

Pre-match, Oaks had focused on making a good start to the match and the Power thumping hit was followed by centre Josh Penney being released by the excellent James Fotheringham in midfield, making 40 yards in the process.  The opening 20 minutes saw Oaks dominate in almost every facet of the game, with their driving mauls causing the home side to infringe on a number of occasions. 

The deadlock was broken by Penney, after a scrum on the home side ten metre line saw Oaks recycle the ball on the blind side and after excellent hands by Captain Stuart Coleman and his forward colleagues, outside centre Penney was released to canter in.  Fotheringham converted and Oaks were 7-0 to the good.

Oaks could not switch off and were tested by the home side out wide with the Cornish 13 and full back proving to be particularly menacing with the ball in hand.  But either some cover tackling or tough as teak defence from the Oaks meant that Cornish were rebuffed and allowed the away side to keep their seven point lead.

Indeed they were to extend the lead mid-way through the first half when a loose ball was kicked to full back Jonny Short.  The pacey back moved the ball to his partner in crime, 17 year old Charlie Corrigan, who took the ball deep into the Cornish half.  After recycling the ball and some excellent hands from front row paring Power and Charlie Naismith, open side flanker Sam Nicholls burst through to score under the posts for an excellent score.  With the conversion a formality for Fotheringham, Oaks were 14-0 up.

This seemed to spur the home side into life, and the remainder of the half saw Cornish try to puncture holes into the Oaks defence.  Time and time again though, Oaks rebuffed these forays and in some cases, the home side found themselves behind the gain line due to ferocious tackling, in particular from hooker Scott Sedgwick and Sean Derrick.  As the referee blew his whistle for half time, Oaks led 14-0.

The second half began with Cornish starting where they finished off the first, and within two minutes breached the Sevenoaks line with a score.  The excellent conversion meant Cornish were in touching distance of Oaks.  Despite a back line that contained two 17 year olds, as the half grew, so did Oaks maturity with Fotheringham and Corrigan particularly to the fore in the backline, ably assisted by the more experienced Nigel Gumbleton and Simon Tree, who both marshalled and defended exceptionally well. 

Oaks were next to strike, with a Fotheringham penalty, but minutes later, Cornish struck back with a penalty of their own.  Another Fotheringham penalty saw Oaks restore their ten point lead to 20-10 and with just over five minutes to go, the ever powerful and elusive Short broke through would-be tacklers to sprint in under the posts.  Fotheringham completed his 100% record with the boot and as the referee blew his whistle for the end of the match, Oaks had won a pulsating encounter by 27 points to 10.

After the match, Head Coach Adam Bowman said ‘That was more like the brand of rugby I know we can play.  We’ve had bursts of good play this season, but today saw the forwards creating an excellent platform, which our backs took advantage of.  We were perhaps guilty of overplaying in some areas, but that shows the ambition we have to play exciting rugby.  The challenge now is to re-group and go again against a very tough Brighton Blues side next weekend at the Paddock.’

On his two young stars and Academy players, James Fotheringham and Charlie Corrigan, Bowman was full of praise saying ‘It’s always a risk putting in guys so young, but we knew that they both had the ability and temperament to cope with this level.  I thought they were outstanding today and they should be very proud of their performances.’


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