A second half performance saw Charlton score 24 unanswered points and in doing so snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against a highly committed and skilful Deal side whose play belied their lowly league position.
From the onset, Deal looked the more positive side and an error in clearing the kick off cost Charlton dearly in the opening exchanges. In their efforts to run the ball Charlton knocked the ball on thereby setting in progress a poor half’s play for them. With Charlton forced back onto the defensive Deal began to work the ball up field and Charlton were caught napping when after five minutes they did not play to the referee’s whistle and made no attempt to defend a Deal drive that saw the visitors score a converted try to open the scoring.
Charlton tried to pressurise Deal from the kick off but further errors enabled Deal to force Charlton into conceding a penalty and the visitors self- belief saw them opt for territory instead of kicking the points from a good position. It required an exemplary stealing of the ball at the resultant lineout to thwart the danger but it only proved to be a temporary reprieve from relentless attacking from Deal.
Sensing an upset Deal continued to press and with Charlton falling off tackles and being drawn out of position by the visitors running lines and passing further scores looked likely at any time. Deal’s persistence paid off after twelve minutes when following them taking the ball through a series of phases they scored with their second try of the match which fortunately, for Charlton, they missed the conversion.
Having fallen behind Charlton, after fifteen minutes, finally strung together a period of sustained play that saw them finally taking play into the Deal twenty-two metre area. Despite early problems when scrummaging Charlton opted for a scrum when they were awarded a penalty. A good pick up and drive from the base of the scrum by Rob Saunderson saw him drive over to score Charlton’s first try which was subsequently converted by Tom Amzaleg to give Charlton their first points of the match.
With the match poised Charlton dealt effectively with the restart kick but this was a false dawn for their play as they started once again to make errors thereby enabling Deal to attack utilising their backs. A missed penalty kick from Deal was a let off for Charlton but finally Deal scored their third try of the afternoon with a sweeping handling move and when they added the conversion Charlton seemed to be rocked back on their heels.
Charlton were rewarded for their increasing dominance at the scrum when they were awarded a penalty duly kicked by Amzaleg to reduce Deal’s lead. Injury time at the end of the first half seemed to sound the death knell for Charlton when having bundled Deal into touch just shy of their goal line they contrived to lose the ensuing line out. Deal used the unexpected possession well and their slick passing was rewarded with a fourth try of the half and when they added the conversion the result of the match seemed to have been decided and put out of Charlton’s reach.
With a very poor half, by their standards, Charlton started the second half sluggishly when they conceded a series of penalties which Deal decided to run, it was only fifteen-man defence from Charlton that prevented the score. It required a turnover close Charlton’s goal line and a sixty-metre downfield kick to calm Charlton’s nerves.
Changes in the Charlton team seemed to have steadied their play and Amzaleg was unfortunate when his penalty kick from Deal’s ten metre line was caught by the wind and drifted wide of the goal posts.
With their confidence rising Charlton finally started to play with precision and drive and when following Deal having a player yellow card for a high tackle Amzaleg kicked the resulting penalty seemed to put heart into the team. Throughout the first period Charlton’s forwards had been gaining the upper hand and they were finally recompensed for their efforts when following Deal’s pack disintegrating at a scrum the referee awarded a penalty try and then applied the experimental rule that the conversion does not have to kicked for such a score.
A four-point difference between the sides ensured that the match ebbed and flowed with both sides having scoring opportunities. It was only in the final ten minutes that Charlton finally took the lead when following the award of a penalty they decided on the scrummage option where following a pickup drive and phases of play Alan Knuckey shimmied over to touch the ball down for a try. When Amzaleg kicked the conversion, Charlton had taken the lead with only five minutes and injury time remaining.
Holding a slim lead in the match Charlton required a further try to secure a bonus point. It was a robust run from Jeremy Montes, fielding a Deal clearance kick, that set Charlton up for the opportunity to score the fourth try to earn the try bonus point. After having a try disallowed for a forward pass Charlton, at the ensuing scrum, won the ball against the feed and slick handling gave Amzaleg the space to dummy his way through a gap in the Deal defensive line to score a try which he subsequently converted with the last kick of the match to secure, against the run of play, Charlton a victory which at half time seemed unlikely.
Charlton travel away next Saturday hopefully they will replicate their flowing play of a week ago, as they play Hove, a side who is at present sitting in mid table in seventh place.