Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV’s twelve game winning streak came to an end on Saturday as they were beaten 17-11 away at Camberley RFC. After leading at half time by one point, in front of a vocal and full crowd, the home side scored a converted try and penalty to move away from Oaks, before a Ben Adams penalty concluded the scoring and ensured that Oaks went away with what could be a crucial bonus point.
With both teams competing at the top of the league and separated by only three points, onloookers knew that it was going to be a close contest and so it proved. With a strong wind going across the pitch, the opening stanza saw handling errors from both sides as they tried to assert authority on the other. Despite Camberley having greater territory, Oaks struck first, as winger Ben Adams picked off the home full back’s pass inside the Oaks 22 before sprinting the length and stepping inside the covering defender to score a try which he was unable to convert. 5-0 to Oaks.
When Oaks had the ball, they looked dangerous and from the kick off, full back Jonny Short nearly scythed through before being hauled down. Sharp breaks by Leighton Ralph, Matt Holmes and Richard Adenyi-Jones went unrewarded as the final pass and excellent home defence denied further scores. Indeed as the half went on, Camberley began to gather momentum, particularly at scrum time. A scrum five metres out from Oaks line led to the home side’s first score - after a number of re-sets the referee awarded Camberley a penalty try for Oaks continually infringing and Power was sent to the sin bin. The automatic seven points put Camberley in the lead by 7-5.
The home side had their tails up and only resolute Oaks defence and handling errors from Camberley RFC kept the score at 7-5. In particular, the home side full back Tom Allen was excellent and continually caused Oaks trouble with strong running.
With a few minutes of the first half left on the clock and back to a full complement, Oaks began to put phases together and from a penalty that was kicked to the corner. The away side’s catch and drive from the lineout was thwarted illegally, resulting in another yellow card, but this time to the home side loose head prop. Moments later, after another infringement and with half time looming, Oaks decided to kick the straightforward penalty to go 8-7 up at the break. A chance for both sides to regather themselves and an opportunity for supporters to catch their breath.
Camberley began the second half stronger and struck with a second score through the excellent Allen. Some good hands by the pacy Camberley backs enabled them to get on the outside of the Oaks defence to release Allen who finished well. The home fly-half Smart converted and the score was back in the home side’s favour, 14-8.
Despite difficulties at the scrum, Oaks continued to work their way up the pitch, with Number 8 Sean Derrick to the fore – the Welshman making yardage almost every time he had the ball. From one of these bursts, Oaks found themselves camped on the Camberley line and the games defining period got underway. As the Oaks forwards looked to squeeze over the line, they were continually thwarted by the excellent home defence, cheered on by their vocal support. At one point, flanker McRae seemed to have got over, but to his disappointment, the referee deemed the ball had been held up and moved back to give Oaks a penalty for a home side infringement. Phases later, due to outstanding pressure from Camberley, Oaks made a handling error which allowed the home side to relieve the pressure. It was clear that both sets of players had given everything and those watching applauded the commitment from desire from all thirty on the field.
The defensive display clearly gave the home side a boost and they were to go further ahead after making their way down to Oaks 22. Indeed they may have had more had handling errors and resolute Oaks defence not played a part, but a well taken penalty from Smart gave them an all-important 11 point lead with under 10 minutes to go. To their credit, Oaks came straight back and Ben Adams stroked over a penalty from in front to bring them back within the crucial seven points.
And that scoreline was to remain, with the home side taking the well-deserved victory to the delight of the home support. An excellent game of high level, high pressure rugby and a real treat for those that were there to spectate.
Better results were garnished across the other Oaks teams though, as the 2nd XV, 3rd XV and Gents all managed to win their matches, enabling all sides to continue their pursuit at the top of the table.
‘First and foremost, congratulations to Camberley on the win. They deserved it and we have no qualms about that’ said Head Coach Adam Bowman after the match. ‘Both sets of players gave everything and I think all the supporters would agree with me that it was an excellent match of the rugby.’
‘We have come through a hard block of fixtures just now and the boys have done exceptionally well. Of course we wanted the win and the players are really disappointed not to, but to come away with a bonus point is also pleasing. It was a tough old game and perhaps the exertions of the last few weeks caught up with us a bit. We are going to rest up and get ourselves right for the final run-in now, which is going to be incredibly tough but very exciting. It starts with Havant in two weeks’ time and we would like as many supporters down at the Paddock as possible to get behind the boys to give them that final push’