An early start – perhaps a little too early for some! – saw OAs U15 take on the might of what proved to be an excellent Sevenoaks side who were enjoying a very successful season to date.
Once again the OAs’ squad was stretched to its limits and with illness and last minute cry offs, this was another testing time for the team prior to their crucial league match next week. Nevertheless there was no reason to believe that the team wouldn’t build on last week’s win over Surrey Champions, London Irish. But there are no easy games particularly when the quality of the opposition is little known.
OAs began brightly enough on a murky morning and were determined to ensure they picked up where they had left off last week plus the training session midweek. The forwards continued to impress in the set piece and were using line outs and scrum possession to good effect. A blind side move and a quick pass found Tom L in plenty of room on wing, with swiftness of foot, he finished off in the corner 5-0.
The backline still although not firing on all cylinders, was beginning to move the ball around and from a period of good play, the ball was worked down the line and Harvey saw a chance and powered over. This time Tom L added the extras, 12-0. The crowd were beginning to wonder if this was the new OAs! Starting powerfully and putting scores on the board early in the game! But sadly they encountered an opposition who then proved they weren’t Kent County champions for nothing!
Sevenoaks hit back with a vengeance and in the breakdown they were by far the most dominant team. Simply they hit rucks harder and got to the ball quicker than OAs and even from attacking positions, OAs found themselves on occasions pushed off the ball as the Sevenoaks’ flankers and forwards made a mess of breakdown. Their opening try was fortuitous as two handling errors proved costly handed them a try from almost nowhere. From being comfortable OAs looked a little shaky.
This had been a high quality first half with both teams matching each other in many aspects of the game. OA’s would need to maintain a high level of intensity if they were to prevail, this in essence was the focus of the team talk at halftime with OAs leading 12-7.
Sevenoaks clearly felt they could get back into the game quickly and from an excellent kick to touch (their kicking was of a high quality, spotting gaps and playing for position), they were able to drive over despite the gallant efforts of the OAs defence. 12-12. Very much game on!
OAs then stepped up a gear and were now matching their opponents work rate in the ruck and securing good ball. Having taken up residence in the Sevenoaks 22, the ball was worked along a line consisting mostly of forwards and it was Sean who had the strength to go over. 17-12.
OAs were now in the ascendency and whilst occasionally threatened the OAs half, the back line lead by Harry and Harvey put considerable pressure on the Sevenoaks backline and they made little progress.
With a good passage of forward play, Tom L did a great cross kick for Will to gather and put down under the posts (trademark try from these two!). That was an excellent use of the kicking game! 24-12 with Tom L adding the extras.
Ryan, who along with his Sevenoaks counterpart, had received the polite wrath of the referee’s tongue, decided to turn anger into controlled aggression and from a turnover in the middle, found space on the wing to power over. 29-12.
The remainder of the game got lost in a midfield battle, OA’s were by now in control of the match having drawn the sting from their very capable opponents the final whistle went with OAs coming out on top at 29-12.
In the end, a good result which might look to the neutral as a bit of a canter for OAs and whilst they were worthy winners, nothing should be taken away from the Sevenoaks side which showed many skills and qualities which on another day would have reaped rewards.
Special mention to Matt Cannon whose leadership and organisation in the Line Out allowed us to work out an ‘on the spot plan’ to negate what was a new Line Out move that Sevenoaks employed for the entire match.
So it’s onto the crunch game and all players need to keep fit, health and injury-free as well as making this game their priority – no Saturday night partying! Letchworth also know the enormity of this game and will undoubtedly be sending out similar messages to their players. The supporters from both sides are expecting a titanic struggle next week and the clock counts down from today, be assured our boys will be ready!