Friday, July 19, 2024
HomeRUGBYMighty Oaks go second after solid win

Mighty Oaks go second after solid win

At half time in their home fixture against Sutton & Epsom, the game remained in the balance with the scores level at 7 points each. Finishing the closing moments of the first 40 minutes, at one stage with only 13 players on the field, they were unable to hold out a committed and resilient opponent who deservedly scored an equalising try with the last play of the half. The Oaks’ coaching staff led their team off the field having witnessed too many errors by their charges in the first period, knowing an improvement in tempo and discipline would be required if they were not to drop valuable points in the race for promotion places.

As so often this season they then delivered a blistering period of attacking play, scoring 3 tries in 12 minutes, securing the 5-point win and moving to 2nd place in the table. Enormous credit must go to the Oaks’ players who once again demonstrated speed and precision in the red zone, backed up by strong set-piece efficiency throughout. That said, Sutton & Epsom provided the toughest of tests, with their excellent organisation and commitment offering a stubborn threat. However the men from the Paddock deservedly won the day, delivering their 9th win on the bounce, with now only 7 games remaining in the season.

Despite Oaks playing into a strong wind, the match opened with them applying early pressure but errors made meant they were unable to capitalise. Then after 16 minutes S&E kicked well, using the elements, to get good field position, winning a penalty as Oaks strayed offside. The kick for goal was missed. The scrappy, mistake ridden opening phases continued until the 27th minute when, off the top of a line out, the Oaks’ stand-off Patrick Pellegrini released Fred Richardson to make a line-breaking run, slipping the ball to Sean Derrick who ran in under the posts. The try was converted by Ben Adams to make the score 7 – 0.

Unfortunately for the home team, a rare lineout malfunction straight from the restart gave the visitors a platform for a sustained period of territory and possession. The penalty count against Oaks was rising and from a quick tap by S&E, Jonny Short was yellow carded (29 minutes) for tackling to save a try having not retreated 10 metres. Another infringement 2 minutes later by hooker Scott Sedgwick saw him follow Short into the bin. Despite some great 13 man defence and their own breakout that nearly resulted in a score, the pressure returned on the ‘Navy and Hunting Golds’ with the Oaks’ line breached by a fine dummy by the S&E number 10 who dotted down under the posts; converted to make the half time score 7-7. There was a spring in the step of the visitors as they left the field and Sevenoaks knew improvement was needed in the second half.

Oaks immediately took advantage of the wind after the restart, kicking well to secure attacking field position and trusting their smothering defence to win possession. Continuing to edge the breakdown, with and without the ball, it didn’t take long for Oaks to build phases through the forwards for Charlie Naismith to barrel over after 44 minutes to make it 12 – 7, converted 14 – 7. Two more quick scores followed as first, scrum half Henry Galligan, after 48 minutes, broke the S&E defensive line with a quick tap penalty, handing the ball to Matt McRae to score under the posts; converted 21 – 7. Then a kick-return by Fred Richardson allowed the best backs move of the day, with the ball fizzed from Ben Adam’s to Jonny Short and on to Josh Livett to score in the corner. The conversion attempt drifted away but at 26- 7, the bonus point was secured. It had been a dominant and exhilarating passage of play by the home team.

With 25 minutes still remaining, Oaks, perhaps guilty of overplaying, failed to convert any further openings, despite scrum dominance and the edge territorially. In fact it was S&E who had the last scoring say, breaking through the Oaks’ defence after 60 minutest to make the score 26-14, to the delight of the most energetic visiting flag waving touch judge seen this season at the Paddock. For the final quarter of the game, largely played in the middle third of the pitch, both defences dominated, forcing errors in try scoring positions. The final whistle blew on an entertaining encounter with the win for Oaks, despite a scrappy performance in places, fully merited

Next week Oaks welcome local rival Tunbridge Wells, who will arrive at the Paddock on the back of their best win of the season, defeating league leaders Hertford.

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