Two penalties, kicked by Alan Knuckey, in the second half proved to be decisive as Charlton overcame a spirited Dartfordians performance, and in doing swopped league positions last Saturday.
From the outset of the match Charlton were forced back into their own half and by Dartfordians pressure in both loose and tight play. Charlton were also hampered by a number of errors brought about by the weather allied to personnel changes. Good fifteen-man defence from Charlton proved to be equal to the threat posed by Dartfordians and their kicking game, orchestrated by “Tibbs” Dimofte and Knuckey often turning Dartfordians.
Having weathered Dartfordians initial thrusts, including several attempts to maul the ball over line Charlton settled into a more solidified team and despite initial problems at the scrummage against and began to establish some field position and they made forays into Dartfordians half. Despite having problems at the scrummage against a smaller Dartfordians pack who on occasions pushed Charlton backwards good number eight play from Rob Saunderson ensured that no real pressure was caused. It was off a retreating scrum that created the first try of the game when following a box kick from Knuckey Jeremy Montes’ chase ensured he gained possession of the bouncing ball and he rounded off the move by scoring the opening try of the game which Knuckey duly converted with a kick close to the side-line.
Dartfordians, anxious to try and reduce the lead redoubled their efforts and, despite Charlton defending well waves of attacks, they finally breached the defence and a series of plays saw the ball being moved out to the flanks and finally Dartfordians scored a try as recompense for their efforts. In the ascendency Dartfordians continued to press but errors combined with solid fifteen-man defence from Charlton saw the home side holding onto their narrow lead.
Despite long periods of defending Charlton enjoyed forays into Dartfordians half where themselves forced the visitors to have to defend close to their goal line. It was after twenty-five minutes when Charlton extended their lead following Ross McManus blocking an attempted clearance kick from Dartfordians Charlton were the quickest to react to the loose ball on the ground and swift transference through several pairs of hands saw Ben Pritchard executed a fine revere pass that enabled Tshepo Mooki moving at speed to receive the ball without breaking step to outpace the oncoming defence to score Charlton’s second try to extend their lead.
Throughout the first half Charlton had encountered problems scrummaging against the Dartfordians forwards and it was following Charlton being penalised in this aspect of play, including having been reduced to fourteen players with one being sin-binned that set up the situation that saw Dartfordians level the scores just before half time when Dartfordians took the ball through phases to touch the ball down close to the goal posts to ease the subsequent successful conversion.
With the score level at half time there was “all to play for” in the second half for both teams to try and win to maintain their momentum in the leagues. Several tactical substitutions and technical tweaks to their scrummaging made just after half time improved Charlton’s play in tight play and thereby providing a stronger basis from which to work and they began to play at a higher tempo and their kicking game pinned Dartfordians back and the game began to be played predominately in the middle third of the match.
With Charlton playing at a higher intensity, retaining better quality possessions, and with parity in tight play Charlton began to cause pressure on a previously well-disciplined Dartfordians side who began to concede penalties. It was following Dartfordians being penalised for a series of errors that Charlton were awarded a penalty in front of the goal posts which was duly kicked by Knuckey to give Charlton the lead.
With a narrow lead Charlton continued to press and with ten minutes left in the match, Dartfordians had a man sent to the sin bin and Knuckey kicked to resulting penalty to further extend Charlton’s narrow lead.
Requiring a converted try to win the match Dartfordians tried but to little avail as Charlton’s defensive qualities were more that equal to the task and they held on for a hard-earned win that saw them swop league positions with Dartfordians and move into third place in the table.