The weather was the winner. For those of us wrapped up spectators the sight of players fighting against hypothermia provided a mitigating factor in what was an ultimately exciting but mistake-strewn game on Saturday. Nevertheless, Charlton Park continued their progress in the Intermediate Cup with a win over a Farnham side who hardly deserved to lose on the balance of play.
Near-freezing temperatures and near-horizontal freezing rain are not conducive to free-flowing rugby although initially both sides tried to keep the ball moving and there were several examples of the ball being lost almost in the act of scoring. As the game and the weather went on, protection of the ball and the safe option became paramount and action became more confined to the protection of the forwards and the middle of the field.
Park led 14 – 7 at half time, after the visitors had scored first. A sharp break by centre Mike Salmon and recycling led to a forwards try under the posts. From the restart Jeremy Montes was involved twice, first making the break and then finishing off. The score remained tied for most of the remainder of the first half as the weather worsened. However, just before half-time Park put together one of their best moves of the day and then were awarded a penalty try after a monster scrum.
After the break Farnham drove over from a line-out to level the scores. Both sides had chances but defences ruled as the weather took over. Park won the game with a Knuckey penalty halfway through and then held on.
It was hardly a vintage performance and Charlton Park will need to show more if they are to proceed, now that they have reached the London Cup semi-finals. Dogged defence and a solid scrum won the day, but once again the line-out misfired and Park missed the big boot so necessary on days like these. Nevertheless, congratulations to the team for once again getting through to the last four – we’ll know who we play at midday on Wednesday; Rochford Hundred, Norwich or Camberley.
Charlton Park are away at Pulborough next week, followed by a trip to Horsham.