Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV travelled to Old Colfieans RFC on the back of a good win the week before against Maidstone RFC. The last time the two sides had met, in London South 2, Oaks had scrambled over the line in the dying minutes and knew that the home side, with a bulky pack, would provide a testing, physical battle.
In fine conditions at Horn Park, Oaks started the better of the two sides, pulling some good phases together. After a good break from centre Josh Thorneycroft, he offloaded to his centre partner Nigel Gumbleton who raced through the home side back line, before being dragged down five metres short by Colfes pacy left wing. The home side scrambled well and earned a turnover to release pressure. Indeed despite the good start from Oaks, Colfes worked their way back into the game and took the lead with a well taken penalty after an offside by Oaks.
The home side were to extend their lead after more pressure led to Oaks infringing. After a catch and drive at the lineout, the home side worked the ball to Oaks right hand side and forced their way over for a good score, which was converted to give them a 10-0 lead.
Oaks began to respond, but a nasty injury to Oaks scrum-half Rhys Kinchen-Goldsmith halted play for 15 minutes as he received treatment on the pitch. It would transpire that Kinchen-Goldsmith, making his first start in an Oaks 1st XV shirt, had broken both his fibula and tibula, which required surgery. Everyone at both Sevenoaks RFC and Old Colfes sends Rhys their best and hope his recovery is a successful and speedy one. Special mention also to both Oaks and Colfes medical team and support staff who tended to Rhys and ensured he was made as comfortable as possible.
After a re-jog in the backline, which saw centre Gumbleton move to scrum half and Simon Tree come on to the wing, Oaks re-started play with a lineout on the home side’s 22. After stringing a number of phases together, front rower Josh Te Hira barged his way through would-be tacklers to score Oaks opening try, which Tom Floyd converted to bring Oaks back to within three.
Almost immediately from the kick off, Oaks were at it again, this time with the try of the game. After fielding a kick from Colfes in their 22, Oaks attacked through full-back Thierry Walker, who moved the ball to Floyd. The fly-half took the ball forward at pace, dummied to beat the first man before drawing the next and passing to pace man Jonny Short. Short sprinted through, before passing back to the supporting Sean Derrick, who’s quick hands found Walker who strolled in under the posts to the delight of the away support. Floyd converted and at half time Oaks led 14-10.
The next score was crucial and it went the way of Oaks, as after sustained pressure, Oaks were awarded a penalty which Floyd once again converted. The game remained tight, with Oaks making elementary handling errors whilst Colfes found joy through their powerful forward runners and dangerous wings. This was reflected in the next score, as the home side, after five minutes of pressure, forced their way over the line again for a powerful score. It was converted and the scores were level.
Some outstanding defence from the home defence kept Oaks at bay, with one tackle from the home sides full back on Walker stopping a certain score. With just over eight minutes remaining though, Oaks breached the Colfes line one final time, as Josh Penney, who had been moved from wing to centre, showed some outstanding footwork and strength to beat three defenders in a congested midfield and score under the posts. Floyd converted to complete his afternoon with a 100% record and Oaks led 24-17.
With a number of Colfes players now suffering with injuries, Oaks sensed an opportunity to score a bonus point try. But, as they had shown throughout the match, Colfes were well organised defensively denying Oaks with solid defence to ensure that Oaks remained at bay. The final whistle ended a compelling encounter, with Oaks taking four league points to Colfes one.
After the match, Head Coach Adam Bowman said ‘It was a really difficult game. To lose Rhys after 25 minutes was tough – we wish him all the best and look forward to seeing him down at the Paddock soon. Of course we are really pleased to come away with four points against a good Colfes side. We were frustrated with the errors that crept into our game – some of that was pressure from the opposition but on occasions we were the architects of our own downfall. When we click, like we did for Thierry’s try, we are a hard team to stop. But we must continue to cut out the errors.’
Looking ahead to next week’s match, away against Medway, Bowman said ‘It’s another huge task for our boys. We’ve had four good wins for all of our senior teams, so selection will be tough this week. Medway are a very good team – always well organised with very skilful players so we will need to get our game plan and training right to make sure we are at the top of our game come next Saturday.’