In scoring seven tries and showing an all-round improvement in their play in both defence and attack Charlton Park secured their first league win of the season and in doing so moved off the bottom of the league table.
From the kick off there was a different mood prevailing in Charlton’s play and despite missing a penalty kick it not affect play as they showed that they were willing to run the ball. It was following a break from man of the match Thor Normann that saw Tommy Nightingale in support and his final pass was taken by Mark English playing on the right wing who scored the opening try of the half. With the good start to the game Charlton continued to increase the tempo of play and this was to lead to them taking control of the game especially in the forward exchanges where they had Hove moving backwards.
It was Nightingale who had a hand in the second try of the half when after the ball had been driven up field by Rob Saunderson, Nightingale was on hand to give support and Neil Collins finished the play by touching the ball down between the goal posts to aid Normann’s successful conversion.
Despite playing on the back foot for periods of the game, Hove illustrated several good attacking plays and following a break from the visitors it required bone juddering tackles from Normann and Michael Casizzi to prevent Hove from scoring what would have been well merited tries. Both sides continued to create opportunities to score and it was after thirty minutes, following a sixty metre run out of defence by Ross McManus, that saw Charlton squander a scoring opportunity when his the pass out the tackle was knocked on by the supporting player.
It was during a period of play close to half time that saw Charlton being reduced to fourteen men when they had a player sin-binned, but this did curb their scoring intentions as, when following them gaining possession in Hove’s half, a break from Steve Laverie saw English in support and the wing’s pass was accepted with glee by Lee Amzaleg whose twisting run took him through a tackle and he scored the third try of the half. With Normann adding a second conversion Charlton finished the half with a useful nineteen point lead.
The start of the second half saw Hove score their first points with a penalty and this slight shock was to prove to be the catalyst for Charlton to show their attacking capabilities. Having won the ball against the head at a five metre scrum from their try line Charlton opted to run the ball out of defence when Normann made a break and Ben Chappell was on hand to take the final pass and to score the try which earned Charlton a bonus point, their first this season, and in doing so settled players and spectators alike nerves.
It was following driving play from Mark Harlow-Singh and Terry Read that created the opportunity for Amzaleg to score his second try of the game and open up an almost unassailable lead for Charlton when Normann added the conversion.
Two moments of indiscipline from Charlton gave Hove a glimmer of game that they could break back into the game as the home side were reduced to thirteen when two players were given yellow cards for offences committed in attack. Hove did not waste the opportunity, and despite resolute Charlton defence, to score two tries, one converted to narrow Charlton’s lead.
Once restored to a full complement Charlton continued to exert pressure and were rewarded when following an error at a line out in the Hove half Harlow-Singh drove into the heart of the visitor’s defence and following the ball being taken through several phases of play Normann scored the sixth try for Charlton. With a win almost guaranteed Charlton made several tactical substitutions that enabled them to play pragmatically kicking the ball well in ensure that Hove were pinned back in their half and had to attack from deep.
The final try of the afternoon, scored with the last move of the game saw Charlton decide to run out of defence when following a Hove kick in to Charlton’s twenty two metre area Amzaleg created a break out of defence that saw Charlton run the ball eighty metres up field, with a series of passes, out stripping the Hove cover to create the opportunity for English to scoring his second try of the game.
Next week Charlton visit Hampshire to play Havant kick off 3.00pm