12 OCTOBER 2013
Charlton Park returned to winning ways with a five try win over Crowborough, a side in previous years with whom they had had a number of close matches, but this year are suffering the effects of losing a number of players.
The first twenty minutes of the half saw Charlton hit the ground running and implementing the game plan to perfection. The tone of the match was set went from the first scrummage Charlton pushed Crowborough backwards and it was Charlton’s forwards who were set the tone of the game.
It was from a thirty metre driving maul that created Charlton’s first score of the half when following the ball going to ground Charlton were awarded a scrum and following a robust drive Beau Sanford- Francis scored his maiden first team try when he was adjudged to have to touched the ball down for a try. Fly half, Thor Norman making a welcome return to league play after an injury, kicked the conversion to give Charlton an early lead after five minutes.
The opening try was just a precursor for the next fifteen minutes that saw Charlton putting last week’s defeat behind them and playing to the full extent of their abilities. With Norman orchestrating the game well with his astute passing and tactical kicking, allied to Charlton running and driving play Crowborough were forced into playing on the back foot.
It was an initial break by man of the match Norman that saw Crowborough’s defence split and following fine passing and running lines he was on hand to take the final pass to score Charlton’s second try in the space of ten minutes.
Charlton’s third try of the half was set up by good forward play that saw Charlton picking and driving and following another break from Norman his long pass was taken by “BJ” Bridges, another player making a welcome return to league rugby following an injury, and his direct running took him over the goal line to score the try. Norman successfully kicked the conversion from close to the side line to stretch Charlton’s lead.
It was Charlton’s over ambitious play that saw them allow Crowborough momentarily into the match when they started to concede penalties and the visitors utilised the opportunity to score their first points of the game with a successful kick.
This momentary shock seemed to make Charlton regain their focus to play. Following the award of a penalty Charlton opted for field position and from the ensuing line out Charlton’s pick and go saw Luke Boyns scoring the fourth try of the half and in doing so secured Charlton a try bonus point. Norman once again kicked the penalty to give Charlton a twenty three point lead.
Holding a comfortable cushion of points Charlton once again seemed to lose the intensity and they began to give away penalties. It required quick reactions and a try saving tackle from Mark English to prevent Crowborough scoring when following the award Crowborough quickly tapped the ball and a cross- field kick fell into the arms of a chasing player but English was equal to the threat. Following the showing of a number of yellow cards the remainder of the half saw Charlton slightly in the ascendency.
The second half almost saw a reversal in fortunes as Crowborough becoming the more influential side and working their way into the match and forcing Charlton to defend. Try scorer Boyns turned into try saver when following a drive and rolling maul by Crowborough he managed to work his way through and aided by his fellow team members he got hands on the ball to hold it up when only metres from the goal line.
Despite defending for a large proportion of the half Charlton did enjoy periods of territorial advantage and it was following such an excursion into the Crowborough half they scored their fifth and final try of the match. Following Charlton opting for field position, when awarded a penalty, Sam Baker’s athletic jump and catch followed by his pass found Steve Laverey who trundled down the side line to score the try.
To Crowborough’s credit their young team kept playing for the entire match and they were rewarded for their efforts when from a line out they mauled their way over to score a well merited try.
By Roe Belcher
Crowborough’s view of the match;
With a growing list of injuries this was always going to be a difficult encounter, but even the biggest pessimist would not have predicted the score line after just 10 minutes.
With Crowborough looking lethargic , Park came out from the whistle in rampaging mood. An early scrum shocked the normally dominant ‘Boro pack as they were driven off the ball with onsummate ease, allowing Park to pick up and drive deep into the ‘Boro 22.
To their credit, the ‘Boro defence refused to be bullied and put in several telling tackles that required Park to recycle through seven phases before eventually the Park #1 broke through to flop over the line. The try was converted. 7-0.
From the kick off Mitch Malherbe put pressure on the receiver, but was judged to have unfairly competed for the ball. The resulting penalty found touch some 30 metres out from the ‘Boro line, which Park won. The Park #10 quickly made space before releasing the rest of his backs who then outstripped the ‘Boro cover to score out wide. The try went unconverted. 12-0.
With just 10 minutes of the match played, Park scored their third try courtesy of a well directed blind side pass by the #10 to the wing who taking the ball at pace crossed the line and made the resulting conversion a formality. 19-0.
Lesser sides would have folded at this point, but Crowborough now snapped out of their malaise, and from a penalty Chris Yates put the ball into touch on the the Park 22. From the lineout Ed Atkin put his line away with an inventive backs display that saw Josh Miles come into the line in support of Mitch Malherbe and slide the ball into touch 5 metres from the Park line. From the lineout a scrum was awarded to ‘Boro as a stray hand was at last penalised, allowing Chris Yates to take the three points. 19-3.
This seemed to give ‘Boro more confidence but any fluency was quickly stemmed by a well drilled Park pack that had more than their fair share of “lazy runners” and players obstructing the quick release of the ball. As frustration with these tactics grew, Park took advantage with their bulldozing pack to score a bonus point try that was converted to take the score to 26-3.
As half time approached ‘Boro found themselves’ again within scoring range when the Park flanker was pinged for handling in the ruck. Rather than going for the corner and the catch and drive, seeing space on the opposite wing Chris Yates put in a kick to the far corner, but it sliced off his boot behind hisbacks. Michael Waghorn, however was alert and latched onto the errant kick, and evading the first cover tackle seemed destined to cross the line when the winger arrived at pace and brought him down just one metre short. With the support on hand a quick feed was all that was needed but ‘Boro were too eager and were penalised for coming in at the side, allowing Park to clear their line as the half time whistle went.
The second half was a far more even affair with ‘Boro getting the measure of the Park pack, getting underneath; wheeling; and generally giving them an uncomfortabl