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HomeRUGBYBonus point win on Sevenoaks’ National 2 debut

Bonus point win on Sevenoaks’ National 2 debut

It was a proud day for Sevenoaks Rugby Club, playing for the first time in their history at rugby’s National Level 4. Cheered on by a large excited and slightly apprehensive travelling support, they saw their team make an understandably nervy start in the first quarter of the match, delighted at full time to have seen them run out comfortable winners; scoring four tries and earning five league points.

Their opponents, who struggled last season at this level recording the leakiest defence and fewest points scored in the league, were committed adversaries. However, despite a good win for the men from Kent, the Oaks’ players and coaching staff know there are sterner tests ahead, requiring improvement in all round execution and performance. This league possesses some well funded clubs with rich histories of higher tier rugby, including Blackheath, visitors to the Paddock next Saturday.

The game itself was an error strewn affair, with both teams guilty of numerous knock-ons and misplaced passes from first whistle to last. The result, and Sevenoaks’ superiority for three-quarters of the game was largely because of the visitor’s impressive defensive line, suffocating their opponents’ attacking attempts. This led to territorial dominance and, despite too many mistakes for the coaching staff’s liking, plenty of scoring opportunities. On a day of greater accuracy and precision, the men from the Paddock could have recorded a significantly higher points tally.

The match kicked off on a warm breezy afternoon, and after a scrappy opening, Westcliff’s impressive 13 kicked over the Oaks’ defensive line and the ensuing chase saw them score in the corner. The try was converted; 7 – 0. The next 15 minutes saw any Oaks momentum stopped by their own mistakes and infringements at the breakdown, whilst Westcliff were unable to build on their early score. After 23 minutes Oaks kicked a penalty to the corner, executed a good catch and drive, moved the ball out wide but Drew Forrester knocked on when a try seemed likely. They had the penalty advantage and Jack Martin kicked a simple three points; 7-3.

Oaks were now gaining the upper hand, if not full control, and after being awarded two quick penalties, from deep in the Westcliff red zone the catch and drive worked well for them to score their first try of the game (and at Level 4!); with the honour going to Tom Simmons. Conversion missed, 7-8 after 35 minutes. Following the restart, Oaks quickly re-established good field position. There then followed an excellent line-break by skipper Nigel Gumbleton, with quickly recycled ball allowing Brandon Thomson to crash over to score. The try was converted to make the half time score 7-15. As both teams left the field, the result was still in the balance, but Oaks had started to establish superiority, with Westcliff unable to secure any dangerous attacking momentum.

The second half was characterised by almost total territorial dominance by the away team with Westcliff making an attacking inroad into the Oaks’ half on only one occasion. It was a disciplined and intense defensive performance by the Kent team, with Shaydn Osgood’s hits in the 13 channel and out wide hugely impressive. However, with ball in hand the Oaks’ mistakes continued but despite this, after 42 minutes Gumbleton charged down a home team kick, and Scott Sedgwick picked up the loose ball to run 35 metres to score. Try converted 7-22.

There then followed that rare Westcliffe second half foray, another excellent chip-kick and after several good phases the ball went out wide for a score. Conversion missed, 12-22. The remainder of the match saw Oaks pinning their opponents in their own half, creating but spurning scoring opportunities, including a harsh disallowed try for obstruction at the ruck. It was only with the last play of the game, with Jonny Short seeing space in front of him for the first time, sprinting 35 metres, were Oaks able to score their bonus point try. Olli Shirtcliffe converted to make the final score 12-29 to the visitors.

After the match Director of Rugby and Head Coach Adam Bowman said: “We are absolutely delighted with the result and the five points, albeit the very rusty performance.  Looking forward to our first home game of the season next week against Blackheath Rugby Club”.

Written by Sevenoaks Rugby Club.

• Sevenoaks next match is at home to Blackheath on Saturday 10th September at 3.00pm.

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