Sevenoaks RFC 1st XV secure bonus point with 25-11 win against Bedford Athletic in their first match in the London Premier South
After a wonderful promotion winning season last term, Sevenoaks Rugby Club’s first team’s Head Coach Adam Bowman and his men were determined to make a good start, playing in the London Premier South league for the first time.
Playing away against Bedford, Oaks put on a well measured performance and the players demonstrated they deserve the chance to compete at this level.
The match kicked off in fine conditions, on Athletic’s excellent synthetic surface, with the home side playing with a slight wind behind them. Athletic struck after only two minutes through the boot of their number 10, who converted a penalty from 30 metres to give his side the lead.
As the game progressed, Oaks settled into a good rhythm in both defence and attack, with a couple of occasions when winger Rich Adenyi-Jones could have broken away but for the bounce of the ball or good cover tackling.
The first try of the game went to Oaks. After a catch and drive at a lineout, the excellent back row Fred Richardson burst from the back of a maul to barrel over for Oaks first points at Level 5. The conversion went wide but the score gave Oaks greater confidence.
The Sevenoaks visitors knew that this level of rugby would pose a consistent physical threat, but their organisation and desire in defence made it very hard for the quick and strong Bedford Athletic back line to break free. Even when they did make a half break, the player would be thwarted by a number of Oaks defenders scrambling across.
Athletic were to score another penalty after a deliberate knock-on in midfield by Oaks to make it 6-5, but Oaks responded with another try, this time through hooker Scotty Sedgwick. After more good work by his fellow forwards, Sedgwick dived over in the right hand corner, giving Oaks a 10-6 lead on the stroke of half an hour gone in the match. Making his 100th league appearance for the Oaks 1st XV, it was a score that the hooker Sedgwick will be sure to treasure.
With half time looming, Athletic scored their first try after a solid scrum gave their back line the opportunity to attack Oaks with pace. Moving the ball to the outside channel, the Athletic wide men interchanged well, finishing in the corner to give the home side a slender 11-10 lead at the break.
As the second half got underway, there was a sense from Oaks that they had perhaps already let two or three chances slip. But with the small wind now in Oaks favour, the away side simply dominated second half proceedings from the off with a commanding display in the set-piece, defence and attack. Within two minutes, Oaks were over the line, as scrum half and Man of the Match Matt Holmes fielded a kick, put in good footwork and pace to break free before feeding No.8 Sean Derrick, who cantered in for a try unopposed. Tom Simmonds converted, and Oaks had just the tonic they wanted at the start of the second half.
After more sustained pressure, Simmonds converted a penalty to give Oaks a two-score lead at 20-11 and as the half wore on, Oaks continued to pin the home side back into the 22. Despite resolute defending from Athletic, one felt the dam would finally burst and with just over eight minutes to go, Derrick was the scorer again, this time picking and going from the back of a solid scrum to make it 25-11 to Oaks and secure the bonus point.
The home side continued to press and for the remainder of the match Oaks had to defend resolutely, with debutant Benjamin Martin and Matt Holmes scrambling to stop the strong Athletic winger from barging over at the death.
The final score was 25-11 to Sevenoaks RFC and after the match, Oaks Head Coach Adam Bowman said: “Clearly we are absolutely delighted with the result, but more importantly the performance. The second half was very mature rugby from across the board and showed that we will be able to compete at this level. We’ve talked all pre-season about the consistency of performance we will need to show in this league as there will be hard game after hard game.
“We look forward to welcoming Sidcup RFC 1st and 2nd XV to Knole Paddock on Saturday and hope that we can get as many supporters down as possible to get behind the boys like they did last season – we can’t wait.”