The Oaks travelled to Skipton on Saturday 30th January to play a strong Skipton team that have been scoring points for fun in recent weeks.
On a cold windy afternoon, the Oaks started strongly, taking on the Skipton defence at every opportunity. Seemingly relishing the space on the big pitch, the Oaks moved the ball well and were rewarded with some great attacking opportunities.
Number 8, Alex Taylor picked well from the base of the scrum and ran hard at the defence on a number of occasions. The first of which led to Kelvin Charles making metres down the right side. The Oaks moved the ball well from the ensuing breakdown only to lose the ball forward. Ongoing Oaks pressure was rewarded with a penalty, which was duly slotted by Man of the Match Nick Watson Jones.
With Oaks continuing to play positively, seemingly having caught the Skipton team off-guard in the opening period, a brilliant piece of play from Scrum Half Mark Robert saw a neat chip ahead which he re-gathered drew the last defender and put Fly Half Watson Jones away for a 30metre finish. Despite the many pacy Skipton backs, and Watson Jones apparently running in slow motion, he reached the line without a hand laid on him. The exertion of the finish clearly played a part in the missed conversion.
With the Oaks having stormed into an 8 point lead within the first 20 minutes, Skipton began to mount a response. They began throwing the ball around and utilising their back line and wide pitch. On the whole the Oaks coped well, and the commitment couldn’t be doubted. Despite this, it looked certain that Skipton would score at some point. Despite valiant defence, the Oaks began to tire and a few injuries caused disruption. Skipton scored a couple of tries to make the score at the break 12-8 to the home side.
After what must have looked like a Barbarians game in the first half, with both sides making yards and the game being played at both ends of the pitch, the weather began to take a turn with driving hail biting into the faces of the away team.
The second half was a one-sided affair, with the home team reacting to what must have been a few stern words at half time. Whilst the Oaks continued to dominate the set piece, the away side struggled to retain the ball and make the inroads they had in the first half.
Skipton scored a few well worked tries, along with some much softer scores to pull out a comfortable lead. As full time approached, and the game gone, the one saving grace was the emergence of the sun which avoided some near-certain hypothermia cases in the outside backs. Final score 48-8 to the home side.
Oaks lick their wounds and return to training this week to begin preparations for the first of a number of season-defining games in the up coming weeks; home clash with local rivals and fellow strugglers Mosborough on Saturday 13th February.
In the second team fixture, the Oaks hosted Sheffield RUFC 4th team in what was apparently an almighty clash. Showing significant improvement from the early-season drubbing, the Oaks were edged out 13-10 in a close game that could have gone either way.
Notable performances included second row Jonny in the line-out, number 8 and club newcomer Joel and inside centre and fellow club newcomer Sam. I have it under assurance that Fly Half and first team regular Joe Henson played the percentages and controlled the game well, which was appreciated by the home pack!
The Oaks have just the one game this weekend, with a 2nd team fixture against Rotherham Pheonix at home. Kick off is at 2:15. All supporters greatly received, and a trip to the pub to take in the first weekend of the six nations is a certainty.