Wednesday, November 30th, 2022

Sevenoaks Rugby 1st team within touching distance of play off place for promotion with three matches to go

Sevenoaks Rugby 29 Havant RFC 7

SEVENOAKS Rugby Club ran out well-deserved 29 – 7 winners over a solid Havant RFC at Knole Paddock on Saturday. It was a vital win in the race for the London 1 South title as the top teams approach the business end of the season.

This is how it works: The top team automatically gains promotion and the second-placed team is given a fighting chance for promotion by way of a play-off match versus the runner-up in London 1 North. Saturday’s bonus-point win sees Oaks hold onto second slot in London 1 South, one point behind leaders Medway and on the same points as Camberley and Brighton.

Oaks’ 20 wins this season to the other teams’ fewer wins meaning they are in the play off for promotion position with three matches to go. However, things can change quickly in this highly competitive League.

Havant arrived in sunny Sevenoaks from the south coast on the back of a fine run of form and the home side knew they would be facing a hard running pack supported by a back line that moves the ball rapidly.

Therefore Oaks quickly got into their stride and up with the pace from the first whistle. Following some well structured moves to gain field position, Dan Power was at the bottom of a robust forward drive by the pack and crashed over the line to open the scoring. Ben Adams slotting home the extra points.

Oaks eight, Alex Suttie, then barraged his way past the Havant midfield, hit his stride and stepped through the full back to secure a second Oaks try to take the score to 12-0.

After scrum half Ollie Shirtcliff was forced off the field with an injury, Oaks did some re-shuffling and hustled wing back Ben Adams in for the 9 duties. He had to learn quickly in a game played at a frenetic tempo, and soon gained the knack for the distribution duties from the base. Adams also found time to let his boot do the talking, and thumped a cheeky drop-goal through the uprights to give Oaks a 15-0 half-time lead.

Havant came out all guns blazing at the start of the second half and before long their third three-quarter darted over for a try following a well-worked backs move. The conversion put the visitors back in contention at 15-7.

Havant continued to put some solid phases together however the Oaks defensive line held strong and thanks to a huge shift from the entire squad and with the Paddock crowd to roar them on, wrestled back control of the match.

The home win was effectively secured by Stuart Coleman crashing over for a try following a sequence of pick and goes, Adams again securing the extra points to make it 22-7.

Even though Havant continued to press, the match became about whether Oaks could score the fourth try required to bag a bonus point. News of big wins for the teams around them in the League was filtering through to the Bradshaw-Pearl Balcony. The sense of urgency was palpable and for the final five minutes Oaks effectively camped on the Havant try line before Josh Thorneycroft plunged over the whitewash under the posts. The conversion, which was the last kick of the match, took the score to 29-7.

Oaks now hit the road and head up to Dartfordians on Saturday (30 March) – all support very welcome for the 3pm kick off.

OVER THE LINE: Alex Suttie bursts through to score Sevenoaks’ second try against Havant.
PHOTO: Dave Purday

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