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HomeRUGBYOaks comeback to share the spoils -

Oaks comeback to share the spoils –

The Sevenoaks RFC players, coaches and supporters will be satisfied to have secured 10 points from their first 3 games in National League 2 East. The team does not look out of place playing at the 4th level of English rugby, and along with Dorking RFC served up an entertaining encounter on Saturday. Playing on unfamiliar territory at Sevenoaks School, while the Oaks’ pitch remains a ‘work in progress’, they staged a comeback that spoke as much about character as tactics and skills. At the final whistle it was probably Sevenoaks who saw the result as 3 points gained, and Dorking 2 points lost, with the away team having led by 19 points after only 15 minutes. Both teams had given everything in a fierce contest serving up 8 tries, with neither able to find a winning score in the final exchanges. The men from the Paddock, whose squad depth is being tested by numerous early season injuries, had dug deep and deserved their reward.

The match opened with Dorking dominating. As they displayed in the two fixtures against Oaks last season, they are a dangerous side that moves the ball away from the ruck and out wide with great speed. It took them only 4 minutes to demonstrate this to score in the corner. 0 – 5, with the conversion missed. More Dorking pressure followed, for the D’s forwards to get the ball down near the posts, with the referee somehow deeming it a try under a pile of bodies. The try was converted, 0 – 12 after 12 minutes. A scrappy period of play followed with Oaks struggling to find any rhythm. After 15 minutes Oaks lost possession and the Dorking winger dribbled the ball over the line. After consulting his assistant, the referee awarded the try which was converted. 0 – 19. The first quarter of the game had belonged to Dorking, who deserved their lead.

Sevenoaks then slowly started to get into the game with some sustained territory, but with the visitors always threatening to break from deep. A mixture of strong defence and their own mistakes stopped Oaks getting on the scoreboard. However, pinned in their own red zone, Dorking increasingly infringed and eventually their second row was yellow carded. Oaks took the scrum, moved the ball through the hands for Shaydn Osgood to score under the posts. The try was converted by Ollie Shirtcliff; 7 – 19 after 39 minutes. The last action of the half saw a dog scampering from an offside position to disrupt the scrum. The half time whistle blew with no additional score.

Oaks, buoyed by their late first half score, took advantage of 15 versus 14, drew a number of penalties from Dorking and from a lineout, executed their ‘catch and drive’ drill for James Simmons to score after 44 minutes. Conversion missed, 12- 19. Momentum was with the home team but credit to Dorking who exerted immediate pressure, won the ball back from the kick off and after an attacking lineout and scrum went over to score their 4th try. Converted to lead 12 – 26. It looked a long way back for the Oaks, but still with plenty of time.

Oaks responded and once again forced Dorking to infringe frequently. Another yellow card followed for them just before the hour. The home team pressure paid off, and after 65 minutes they turned the ball over shortly after a Dorking scrum and Charlie Corrigan went over to score. The try was converted to make it 19 – 26. Oaks then proceeded to play some of their best rugby, with the ball arriving for Jonny Short who, to the delight of the majority of the crowd scored near the posts for the bonus point try. Replacement 10, Jack Martin slotted the extras and the game was tied at 26 – 26. A thrilling final 10 minutes was to follow.

Both teams came close to finding a winning score, butDorking knocked on with the try line beckoning. Oaks seemedlikely to score from a lineout after a marvelous ‘50-22’ by back row Fred Richardson, but credit to the away team who disrupted sufficiently to keep Oaks out. The referee blew the final whistle, with a bit of whimper whereas the excitement deserved perhaps a more theatrical shrill, with honours even amongst two fine clubs.

 Director of Rugby and Head Coach Adam Bowman said after the match “After a very poor 25 minutes in the first half where we trailed 0-19, I am really pleased with the reaction and character shown by the squad in the second half to come back to draw the game.”

 This weekend Oaks travel to meet Barnes.

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