After the game Coach Lee Amzaleg expressed satisfaction at the way Charlton Park managed to create try-scoring opportunities, but many watchers may also feel that the litany of chances that went begging in the first fifty minutes also pointed towards a lack of focus. Nevertheless, this was an impressive scoreline against a team who started above them in the league and who were a tough nut to crack in the scrum.
Rather than the attack, it was their aggressive defence that won Charlton the game. This had been the focal point of training during the week and the pressure it put on a big and dangerous team gradually wore them down so that Park were able to run in the bonus points tries in the final quarter.
We had been promised hurricane Brian, or something like it, but the wind did nothing much more than get into players’ heads. The final pass was dropped several times with the line beckoning, capped by a bizarre sitter just after half-time when Ross McManus managed to throw a pass away in the act of toppling over the line with no defender in the immediate neighbourhood. That acted as a spur to the home side and they finished the game with a modicum of sensible rugby.
As in previous weeks, Charlton started with bang. A drive from a line-out led to Sam Baker touching down, and then Alan Knuckey kicked a penalty after they were seemingly denied a try by a stray hand. For much of the rest of the half strong defence just about kept Horsham out, while occasional forays to the other end could have produced a minimum of two more tries with more careful handling (and with the supporting player holding his depth). Jeremy Montes, Mark English and Reion Raybe had strong runs but each time the final pass went astray.
After Dog’s ‘moment’ Horsham reduced their deficit to 5 points with a penalty, but from then on Charlton Park dominated possession and territory until the last minute when flimsy tackling for once allowed Horsham to show what they could do given room. Alan Knuckey, almost inevitably, was in support of Sam Baker’s break to score Charlton’s second try in the 49th minute. Then a great run from Ross Sidebottom nearly led to a try in the corner, but Park were set up and after Horsham ball was turned over Harlow-Singh sent Montes over. Finally it was Raybe nearly scoring from a great burst that led to Ed Mason breaking tackles to score his first try for the club.
This is developing into a competitive league and this was once again a fine advert for rugby at level seven. Certainly the trip to Horsham next year will be a challenge. We wish them well and look forward to our visit. Next week it’s down to Heathfield and Waldron.
We have drawn another home game against Twickenham in the Intermediate Cup, to be played in three weeks time.