Gallery / Rugby

GALLERY: Oaks coach delighted to win as club show their support for Higginson

PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks head coach Aiden Taylor was delighted his team were able to get a win against higher league Kingsbridge to mark the club’s special appreciate day for chairman Nigel Higginson.

Cornwall/Devon League outfit Oaks triumphed 19-17 against their Western Counties West visitors in front a big crowd at Horsham Fields on Sunday.

The match was the centrepiece of a whole day of activities as the club showed their support for Higginson, who has been diagnosed with cancer and is about to start chemotherapy.

“We did say the result didn’t really matter as the day was about Nigel, but I think we put in a performance for him, especially in the second half when we looked dangerous,” said Taylor.

“The club would not be here if it wasn’t for Nigel and we all respect him. Hopefully, this can make him feel a little bit better.”

Taylor added: “It was a good run-out – a good first pre-season outing. We were a bit loose in some areas, but it was good to get a win against a team from a league above.

“I know they (Kingsbridge) came with a scratch side but it was a momentum-builder for us.”

On what particularly pleased him, Taylor said: “I liked Huw (Moorcraft) at 13. I was really impressed with him on his debut; he looked really good. And also the way we played our structure at times. I know it was loose sometimes but we tried to stick to our structures and that’s what we need to do moving forward.

“The negatives for us were our exits – we couldn’t really exit.  I think we need a solid two weeks on exits as it was an issue, but we do have loads of time left.

“We are slowly building and hopefully by September  7 we can be ready and raring to go.”

Oaks included former Brixham and Tamar Saracens prop James McFarlane in their squad on Sunday and he was one of their try scorers. McFarlane is believed to have a number of clubs interested in signing him following his departure from Brixham.

Taylor said the prop had not yet signed for them but they would like him to.

“He has been training, but is still 50-50,” said Taylor. “Of course we want him to sign, but we’ll have to see what happens. He is a good player and if we could get him it would be a massive signing for us, but we have a good squad here, although could maybe do with a couple more backs.”

Oaks took the lead against Kingsbridge on 14 minutes when 17-year-old number eight Pete Keanie scored following a five-metre scrum after the visitors had been reduced to 14-men for 10 minutes. Fly-half Al Murray added the tough conversion to put his side 7-0 up.

But Kingsbridge dominated the final 20 minutes of the first half. They got a try back through centre George Banfield and had a couple of great chances before full-back Sam Jones scored with the last play of the half to give them a 12-7 half-time lead.

Oaks, though, came out well for the second period and went back in front on 54 minutes when Jack Green scored after a brilliant long-range run by Ben Hadfield. David Byng added the conversion to make it 14-12.

Ten minutes later that became 19-12 when McFarlane used his pace and power to hold off a couple of attempted tackles and get the ball down over the whitewash.

Kingsbridge closed to within two points with a try in the left corner by hooker Jake Vincent.

Oaks looked like they were going to score a fourth try three minutes from time following a kick forward but Hadfield just could not gather the ball in the in-goal area.

Prior to the men’s match there was an invitational women’s game featuring players from a number of different clubs.

The first half of the game was quite even with the team wearing the green Oaks shirts just leading their yellow opponents 10-5. However, in the second half the green team ran away with the match and scored another eight tries to win 50-10.

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