Charlton Park played Beckenham for the second time in three weeks, and in securing a win progressed to the semi-finals of both the Kent Shield, a completion in which they have been drawn at home against Thanet Wanderers in the semi-final, and the London & South East Intermediate Cup with their opponents being known later this week.
With the match being in doubt until Saturday morning it was with some relief for both sides when the pitch was deemed playable and Beckenham enjoyed home advantage when they mounted a period of sustained pressure but Charlton’s defence rose to the challenge and the match became well balanced with both sides creating scoring opportunities.
Throughout the opening exchanges Beckenham had looked dangerous with their running play and it was this factor that lead to them opening the scoring. From a scrum, despite pressure from Charlton, a good pick up from the base saw Beckenham instigate a well-executed handling move, which allied to good lines of running, saw the home side score a try close to the touch line which was converted to give Beckenham the lead.
A good restart kick saw Charlton striking back immediately when following a marauding drive from Mark Harlow-Singh Beckenham conceded a kickable penalty and Alex Miller took the opportunity to make a successful kick to post Charlton’s first points of the game.
Charlton’s forwards were slowly gaining the initiative in tight play enjoying a slight advantage at the scrummage but it was in the loose they were to create Charlton’s first try of the game. Following the ball being ripped from the grasp of Beckenham in the loose driving play from Charlton saw the ball being taken through a series of phases up field and when they were awarded a penalty they had no hesitation in opting for a scrum which lead to Saunderson driving over, aided by his fellow team members, to score a try and giving Charlton the lead.
Playing with confidence Charlton continued to press and they had another opportunity to extend the lead when following a fine run by wing Tshepo Mooki and a drive by Sean Galloway Charlton were awarded another penalty but unfortunately the subsequent kick was scuffed.
Despite Beckenham’s best efforts Charlton continued to press through their forwards who were rising to the challenge and it was a driving maul that was to create Charlton’s second try of the half. When Charlton’s defence won them a penalty they opted for field position and from the ensuing lineout Beckenham were driven back thirty metres by a well-executed rolling maul; and following being held up over the try goal line Charlton were awarded a scrum five metres from Beckenham’s try line. Using their advantage at the scrum Charlton took the ball through a series of drives that saw them stopped by determined Beckenham tackling but a narrow gap in the home side’s defence gave Alan Knuckey the opportunity to dart through to touch the ball down for the try he subsequently converted to give Charlton the lead at half time.
A poor start to the second half saw Charlton give away a penalty in the opening minutes, but fortunately for them the resultant kick missed. Despite the missed kick Beckenham seemed to be buoyed and rallied to the cause. With Charlton forced back into their own half Beckenham mounted a period of sustained pressure which finally breached Charlton’s defence enabling them to score their second converted try of the game.
A lengthy delay in play, due to an injury to Harlow-Singh, suffered whilst in goal line defence seemed to unsettle Charlton who were forced into several substitutions that saw some their players having to play in unaccustomed positions. Utilising this fact Beckenham took the opportunity to pressure Charlton and the result of this period of play the home side retook the lead with a converted try.
Despite the enforced substitutions Charlton continued to press and their driving play was to create problems for Beckenham with the ball being taken through phase play efficiently. It was a scything run by Renaud Van Neel that created Charlton’s next score, when from a scrum, taken following the award of a penalty a series of drives saw Luka Perlain crashing over for Charlton’s third try and in the process, narrowly miss knocking down the goal posts. A successful conversion by Barry O’Keeffe added to the score and Charlton retook the lead which they were never to lose.
A run out of defence by John Beith followed by a flowing handling move saw Alfie Lisle going very close to scoring a try but he was adjudged to have been just in touch in the action of touching the ball down.
Van Neel was to score Charlton’s fourth try of the match, and in doing so make the result certain. With only a few minutes of the game left Charlton ran the ball out of defence and following cross field kick the ball was gratefully accepted by Van Neel out on the wing and he sauntered through to touch the ball down for the try.
Beckenham, to their credit tried to strike back in injury time, but to no avail and with the match, as agreed by both sides as a “double header” effecting both the Kent Shield and the Intermediate Cup Charlton progressed to the next rounds of both competitions.