By Jon Saunders
On Sunday, the U16’s travelled to Sevenoaks to play the rearranged Kent Cup QF.
It was nice to be greeted with sunshine but the pitch was very heavy with Sevenoaks 1st XV having played the day before on it. Having done some last minute readjustments of the starting XV after losing players to schools 7’s and injuries we kicked off with a strong wind at our back.
However we were almost immediately under pressure: the kick went dead and from the resulting scrum we gave a penalty away: a minute into the game we were having to defend a line out in our own 22. While our defence was strong, as it was throughout the day, our discipline was poor. 6 penalties in the first 10 mins prevented us from releasing the pressure and using the conditions to play the game in Sevenoaks half. But Sevenoaks could not breach our line. Superb tacking from 1-15 meant Sevenoaks could not cross out try line and slowly we got back into the game. Our improved discipline and holding onto the ball allowed us to get some territory and we were able to fashion an opening for our winger to touch down in the corner. Kicking conditions underfoot and with the wind made the conversion extremely difficult and although our kicker made good contact it drifted just wide. From the kick off we again put them under pressure and this time scored under the posts and converted. 12-0. Sevenoaks however rallied. Our achilles heel of poor discipline let them back into the game. Able to gain territory from a succession of penalties and our poor handling skills albeit in difficult conditions meant Sevenoaks were able to exert considerable pressure and from an excellent cross field kick their winger was able to score in the corner. Conditions meant that the conversion was missed but we turned round 12-5 up but having to play into the wind.
However Blackheath made light work of the conditions. Mixing our tactics well: using our forwards to punch up the middle, then going wide or using a good tactical kick and chase game, we were able to control the game and gain territory. Tries we scored and converted and with 20 mins to go we have established a 24-5 lead. While our handling had improved, our discipline was the only thing keeping Sevenoaks in the game. It culminated in a yellow card and for the final 10 mins we would have to play with 14. It says something about our defence that despite constant pressure for the final 10mins Sevenoaks could not score and we closed the game out winning 24-5.