Cobham exit intermediate cup at Sevenoaks.
A youthful Cobham side took the trip round the m25 in the fourth round of the intermediate national cup on Saturday. Having had byes in the first two rounds and overcoming league adversaries London Cornish in round 3, Cobham new that stiffer tests lay ahead if they were to progress further.
Sevenoaks lying second in the equivalent London 2 south league, have built a reputation on being a difficult side to play at home with a brand of physical and dynamic rugby. This is aided by a tight and at times agricultural surface and vocal home support.
Unfortunately for Cobham it was a surface that would limit the abilities of Cobham Captain Robbie Kennard who rolled an ankle in the warm up. Heavily strapped he took the field to marshall the troops. This was one better than Prop Andy Alexander who would only make it partially through the warm up, succumbing to the cold that had hit several of the squad.
Changes had been made to the back line also as Arran Cowell came in at 12, james Macdonald on the wing and Tom Farrelly onto the bench. He was joined by youngsters Luke Bliss, Richard Phillip, and Chris Lippiatt.
The game commenced at a stirring pace with both sides looking to build phases of possession positively. Clearly the Oaks strength lie in the powerful running of islander Vaihu who would prove a handful all afternoon. It was a try from the centre that broke the deadlock on 15 minutes as Oaks worked the more favourable of the conditions. This was added to by two penalty kicks for Cobham ruck Infringements. 13-0.
Cobham kickstarted their half on 30 minutes following a break from returning full back james Clements. His soft hands setting Dave flower into the corner. 13-5
This was to remain the case as both sides went into the half for short respite from the bitter cold. With Oaks having the lion share of the elements, coaches Pope and Gibbons wouldn't have been too concerned with the first stanza. What would have troubled them was injuries to key forwards Richard Trepant and Dave Baker. Having provided the primary physicality in the first half, their withdrawal would increase the challenge further.
Within 10 minutes of the restart Cobham's task would become even tougher. A well crafted try from within their own half would see the Oaks take a 20-5 lead. Spurred by the deficit Cobham would then use the conditions to maintain their best phases of possession. Repeated forays into Oaks territory met with stiff defence until the ever threatening James Clements cut inside to score. 20-13 Any positivity gained from clawing back into the game was undermined by Oaks 3rd try on 60 minutes. At 25-13 the game looked to be heading towards stalemate as oaks remained stoic in defence and Cobham's line-out failed to turn territory into possession. The scoring was not to be finished however as oaks finished the tie emphatically with a well worked try from deep within their own half. 30-13
No arguments on the result could be had from Cobham supporters as Oaks used the best of home advantage and outgunned their less experienced opposition on the day.
Despite the loss forwards Coach Chris Gibbons drew many positives....
"Our younger lads will learn a lot from today. Away games against strong opposition are always challenging. You have to deal with many factors and approach things with a different attitude. We were second best in a few key areas today but it will see us in good stead going forward. we will look to raise our play to the next level in the coming weeks to ensure we get our main goal at the end of April, league promotion.
DoR Pope reiterated Gibbons words...
Oaks are a good side that will have a great shot at promotion if they make the playoffs. Our aim is now simple, we have six games to secure the league title to ensure we go up automatically. Today will sharpen our focus and I have no doubt we will see a positive response next up at home to Vandals on Saturday.