Colfeians smother Park to win cup
Despite the try count being 2-1 to Charlton Park, Old Colfeians thoroughly deserved their victory in this Divisional Final of the Intermediate Cup before a big crowd at Broad Walk. They controlled possession during the middle period of the game and as Park were lured into offside positions Colfes’ kicker and fly-half Jack Potter was unerringly 100% off the tee. In a composed display, he also distributed the ball well to a dangerous backline.
Despite those frequent penalties around the ruck Charlton’s defence held impressively firm, particularly out wide, restricting the visitors to one try from a driving maul midway through the first half. There were occasions when it appeared they may have broken through but they never managed to administer the killing blow and it was the home side who were threatening at the end, when Jeremy Montes’ try under the posts gave them one more possession to snatch the game way.
The manner in which Colfes swallowed that attempt up was a microcosm of the whole game – their defence and their ability to slow the ball down smothered Park’s ball-carrying and forced them into kicking, and, during the first half at least, they didn’t do it well enough.
Off with a bang
Charlton Park started with a bang, much unlike the pattern of their recent games. They laid siege to the Colfeians line and Terry Read bulldozed over. Rio Cooper’s conversion made it seven, but he missed a penalty and then Alex Miller, taking over the duties, hit the post and the ball bounced back with no-one following up. Meanwhile Potter’s first penalty from the first of many brought their first points and their try followed soon after, with another penalty for good measure.
Then came the controversial moment. Reion Raybe was high-tackled while in full flow, the referee gave a penalty but no card, much to the bewilderment of much of the crowd. Miller turned it into a bonus with a monster penalty. There followed some close shaves at both ends, but Potter ended the half with another penalty to lengthen the lead to six points.
Charlton Park started the second period well but Colfes weathered the storm and settled into a period of prolonged possession. Understandably, having been pinged several times already, Charlton were wary about attacking the breakdown so the visitors were able to move the ball across the field almost unimpeded, but the Park defence held firm.
Two more penalties made the score 22-10, but it was the visitors who were tiring. A smart inside pass put Tommy Nightingale away, but although his chip ahead was perfectly placed he could not outsprint the defender.
The Full Montes
Finally Park were getting up a head of steam. Josh McMullan fielded a kick and burst through, Park turned the screws and Montes at last broke the shackles. It was too late. All credit to both teams and the officials and crowd for making this an occasion, and a real showcase for the quality of the Intermediate Cup and level seven rugby. I
t seems as though the RFU is determined to change the league and cup system (again) to minimise travel. Promotion and relegation will soon kibosh that – the problem in grassroots lies with 2nd teams down rather than 1st, at this level at least.
The right team won, and huge congratulations to them, but we wonder whether that might be the end of the season. Strange times indeed.