For the second week in a row, Cobham came up against a top of the table side. Just like Brighton the previous weekend, Sevenoaks showed just why they are currently second in the log.
The visitors outlined their intentions by arriving very early to prepare, with a large following of support in toe. This only focussed the home side to the huge job in hand. With the pitch looking, as always, in first class condition, the weather cold but dry, all combined to allow both sides to play open running rugby they are renowned for.
An early penalty saw Sevenoaks take the lead before Tom Farrelly replied in similar fashion to make the score 3-all at the end of the first quarter. Direct running and strong defence from both sides indicated that this was going to be a close affair.
A good composed period of Cobham defence led to a loose pass from the visitors; Farrelly pounced on the opportunity to intercept and finish from just outside the Sevenoaks 22 for the opening try of the game, putting the hosts 8-5 in front.
Both teams were struggling to get to grips with the referee’s interpretations of the breakdown and contact areas, and two further penalties for Sevenoaks put them back in front by a single point. Farrelly missed a penalty after 28 mins, following a good period of pressure from the home side, which proved to be the final scoring opportunity of the half, meaning Sevenoaks went into the break 8-9 up.
Both sides clearly felt the game was there for the taking and in the early exchanges of the second half, the home side enjoyed a sustained period of pressure that resulted in another penalty that Farrelly converted to put Cobham back in front (11-9).
Neither side seemed to be on the same page as the matchday official with regards the interpretations of the laws at the tackle. This did upset the ebb and flow of the game, as both teams wrestled to gain the ascendancy.
Sevenoaks began to be more direct and the effectiveness of their bigger front five resulted in their opening try from a catch and drive lineout to make the score 11-16. The momentum continued to change hands thanks to some enterprising play, but a second touchdown from the visitors from some direct running gave them a two-score advantage (11-23). The home side responded with a well worked try of their own, as slick hands and good interplay between forwards and backs ended with Will Sanders claiming the five points.
Thereafter, the second placed team showed just why they are near the top of the table in the final quarter. Scrum and lineout pressure began to tell, and by retaining possession well, Sevenoaks added two further converted tries to their total. The first came from strong direct carrying and a missed tackle, the last from a good counter attack after the home side lost the ball.
With the visitors on course for a deserved victory, it was good to see the home side continue to play. A lovely individual chip and chase from Sanders saw him claim his second try of the afternoon and make the final score 21-37 to Sevenoaks.
Director of Rugby, Steve Pope said: "I'm often told I can air on the side of negative around my match day feedback, which does surprise me as I'm only ever trying to give an open and honest account of the team’s performance each week. I have to say after last week’s narrow defeat at Brighton and today's excellent performance, I only have praise for our boys.”
“Last week was a game of two halves and we didn't play well at all in the first 40 minutes. Today we played an excellent first half against one of, if not, the best side in the league. On today’s performance, I think Sevenoaks are the best side we have played this season."
"If we can combine the two halves of first from today and the second half from last week, then we are going to be a hard team for anyone to beat.”
“There was some excellent play from us today in attack and defence, and I think it fair to say maybe the final score didn't reflect how tight the game was. We have lots of positives to take from the rugby we've played since Christmas.”
“Again this week we managed to field a second team despite a huge number of lads injured or unavailable, which is another positive. I'd like to thank all the boys for their hard work and continued efforts.”
“We look ahead to each game as an individual challenge and our aim is to work out way up the table. I really believe we are capable of a top six finish."
Cobham 1st XV Squad
1 Ryan Aujla
2 Theo Buffini
3 Ben Joyce
4 Sam Matcham
5 Ben Latimer
6 Doug Rodman
7 Olly Fox (C)
8 Jake McQuade
9 Tiernan White
10 Tom Farrelly
11 Max MacDonald
12 James Mitchell
13 James MacDonald
14 Will Sanders
15 Jonny Holmes
16 Chris Lippiatt
17 Harry Green
18 Ollie Rockett
No 10 Tom Farrelly x 1 Try x 2 Penalties
No 14 Will Sanders x 2 Tries