Charlton Park finished their first season back in London One with a narrow defeat at Brighton in an entertaining game. Park can be proud of their comfortable position in mid-table in what is a very competitive league and they pushed a strong home side very hard. With the two teams just about cancelling each other out it was the class of Brighton’s fly-half Maxx Morris which made the difference; as well as scoring two tries himself he created the other two.
The sunny conditions would have been perfect had it not been for a strong cold wind blowing straight down the pitch. Park had its help in the first half and were at one stage 13-0 ahead but two yellow cards and then a try right on the whistle made the large travelling support concerned that the lead was insufficient. The visitors controlled the game well for most of the half, getting the better of the scrums and kicking well to the corners. A try from Ade Aderiye in the left corner was superbly converted from the touchline by Alan Knuckey, and he added two more straightforward penalties to extend the lead. However a delayed pass from Morris put left winger James Trevis in for a try under the posts to bring the score back to 13-7.
Brighton’s fly-half looped round for a try at the beginning of the second half and the conversion put them in front for the first time, but Park were still getting their full share of the ball. A penalty extended the Brighton lead but Park were playing with confidence and precision and retook the lead with a try by the posts from Ross McManus. The build up was through multiple phases until McManus hit a great line to break through some solid Brighton defence. This was followed by another change of lead when Morris’s crossfield kick found a man in blue in splendid and suspicious isolation (24-20). Now it was Brighton’s turn to suffer from yellow cards and their scrum was dismantled forcing the referee to award a penalty try. Then Morris was back in charge, fading through a gap to score the winning try.
Charlton still had chances to win but a penalty against them for pushing early when once again threatening the line was their last. For the only game in the league which had no significance in either promotion or relegation (bizarrely, the top six played each other, the bottom six played each other and the middle two were here) this was a competitive and exciting match, enjoyed by a large crowd.
Once again many thanks should go to the many Park supporters. Next week the seconds play their last game of the season at home to Tonbridge Juddians and on Sunday it’s the Kent Plate Final against Thanet Wanderers at Cranbrook. Kick off is at 2.00pm, and the coach leaves the club at 11.30. If you want a place you need to inform Dennis Miller.