Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV 29-37 Medway RFC 1st XV
Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV welcomed league leaders Medway to the Paddock on Saturday in front of a healthy crowd. Oaks had started the year well, with a good win over Old Colfieans, but were well aware of the dangers the visitors posed having been on the end of a 41-21 defeat in the away fixture earlier this season.
Oaks started well, with number 8 Derrick making an immediate impact, taking the kick off and racing through the away defence before being dragged down 40 metres later. But it was the away side who struck first, with their excellent scrum half Dance breaking from the base of the scrum and taking advantage of space on the blindside as he ran deep into Oaks half before being dragged down by the covering defence. Medway kept their cool and recycled the ball to the far left hand corner, where good hands saw them go over for an unconverted score.
Two minutes later, Oaks then afforded their opponents a gift, as a high kick caused havoc between two Oaks players, who allowed the ball to bounce and fall into the arms of the on-rushing Medway wing who cantered in for a simple score, this time converted to give the away side a 12-0 lead. A frustrated Oaks then sprang into action and made their way deep into the Medway half, but the top of the table side showed resilience in defence and thwarted a number of Oaks attacks. Mid-way through the first half though, the dam finally broke as Captain Stu Coleman intercepted and raced 2 metres before offloading to the supporting Josh Pettet who went over to the delight of the home crowd. James Fotheringham converted and Oaks were back in the match despite having gifted their opponents two tries.
Disappointingly for the home side, they were to continue the handing out of presents to the opposition, conceding a penalty which was well converted by the Medway fly half Harvey, and then through a lapse of concentration at the lineout, a loose ball was gathered by the Medway back row who sprinted through and touched down to give his side a 22-7 lead at half time.
If Oaks were to get anything from the game, then they needed to cut out the lapses of concentration which had been capitalised on by the league leaders. Spurred on by the vocal support, Oaks started the second half well, and despite not converting two clear chances, Oaks clawed their way back into the game with a Fotheringham penalty and then an excellent Jonny Short try, bringing the score back to 22-17.
But Medway showed their class and why they are league leaders, with two well taken scores – the fifth try highlighting how well they work as a unit as they created space on the left hand touch line for their winger to streak away for a fine score. Oaks were not down and out, showing real character and scoring two further tries through Nigel Gumbleton, as the Oaks provided a much more consistent second half performance which enabled them to garner a bonus point. As the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of the match, Oaks had given a good account of themselves but were clearly frustrated at the opportunities they had afforded their excellent opponents.
After the match, Head Coach Bowman commented ‘Whilst we are never happy to lose, the second half in particular showed that when we concentrate, we can put the top sides under pressure. Our attacking game looked a bit more fluid today as well, but we have to cut out lapses on concentration – good sides like Medway will not need a second invitation and they were excellent in their execution. But some of the tries we conceded were gifts and we are our own worst enemy at times. If we want to climb up this league, that is the level we have to get to and there are patches in that performance which show me that we are not far off.’