A game of two halves! What was all that about?
I’m not going to try to explain it. Charlton Park played some great attacking rugby in the first half to open up a 31-0 lead, and then either nearly threw it away or were upstaged by a great second-half comeback by Heathfield. Quite a lot of both probably. Certainly injuries which forced some changes altered the dynamic of the team, and minds may have been on next week’s Intermediate Cup Area Semi-Final, but the Greenies did play very well and thoroughly deserved their two bonus points.
On a pitch prepared by Colin Wooster in beautiful condition and rightly praised by Heathfield’s report, Park started with all guns blazing. Winning lots of ball at the set piece, the home side put together some scything attacks based on offloading and support play and initiated by their half-backs, Alan Knuckey and Connor McDonald. Ben Pritchard set the ball in motion with a try in the left corner after two minutes, and he was quickly followed by further finishes rom Sam Baker, Ben Chappell and Reion Raybe to secure the bonus point. Man-of-the-match Pritchard scored again before a penalty try to Heathfield left the score at 31-7 at half-time.
There was not real sign of what was to come as the visitors try was immediately cancelled out by Ross McManus, who also had one of his best games of the season. Charlton began to butcher chances thanks to poor choices and dropped passes, and Heathfield refused to lie down. The decisions, which in the first half had gone Park’s way, were now favouring the visitors and they had a bonus point themselves with two minutes to go, whereupon Charlton’s dithering in their own 22 handed them a further seven points via an interception, and Charlton Park aw out the last seconds with some difficulty.
Congratulations to the Heathfield & Waldron players and coaches for their display. Given a few more minutes and they could have gained more than their 2 league points. Charlton Park got their 5 points and played very well for over half the game but will be thinking carefully about what happens when you allow your hitherto winning ways to disintegrate so quickly.
Beforehand there was a moving minute’s silence in memory of Tony Rodway. The VP lunch was graced by the attendance of Sandra Taylor, Alex, Georgiana and the family.
The games keep coming; next week we head off to Norwich in the cup. Coach leaves at 9.00am.