After a twelve-try-fest at Broad Walk, Charlton Park were left to wonder how, in scoring eight of them, they were pushed so close by their visitors. Coach Lee Amzaleg praised the attacking play but was more critical of Park’s ability to stay on the right side of the referee. The defensive press so typical of previous wins was less evident and Dover backs, coming from deeper and marshalled by ex-Kent player Martyn Beaumont, were given room to move. And, of course, you have to kick your conversions!

From the kick-off it was clear that the home scrum was on top and that the team was in the mood. By half-time they had scored the bonus point try, although all kicks at goal had gone astray, but Beaumont was proving more accurate off the tee taking advantage of Park’s infringements to keep Dover only 11 points behind. In the second period Charlton could never really shake them off and they made sure they didn’t return home empty-handed with the final try in injury time to secure a deserved bonus-point.

Ed Mason, who once again had an all-action game, started the scoring, burrowing over from a forward drive. Terry Read did the same after a big scrum, and then Reion Raybe added two, one from a lovely kick through by Tom Amzaleg, and then he finished off a great flowing move across the field.

The second half opened in similar fashion, with Mark Harlow-Singh busting up the middle and finding back-row Sam Baker on hand to speed to the line. A first try for Dover narrowed the score, only for Jeremy Montes to cruise in on the overlap with his trademark hand-offs. Now the game was end-to-end, with Dover somehow sneaking round the blindside and then, after team yellow card going to Terry Read bringing the score back to a nervy 32-26 with a crash ball under the posts.

Two further home tries restored the home advantage. Tommy Nightingale, who had an excellent game filling in at scrum-half for injured Alan Knuckey and reserve Ryan Bennett, broke round a maul and Tom Amzaleg was in support, and Ally McQuitty made a powerful run from a line-out to just squeeze in. Then came Dover’s late bonus.

Mark Harlow-Singh and Nightingale were named joint men-of-the-match, but in all honesty there were several names up for consideration and Terry Read, Ed Mason, Mark English and Sam Baker were all in the mix.

It was a pleasure to welcome the now traditional bus trip visit of Dover supporters to enjoy lunch and more than a few beers. Long may such fraternisations continue. Nearly all Dover’s defeats have been by small margins and the game down there next year will be difficult but enjoyable.

Photos are courtesy of Just Jack Photography.

There is no game next week so the first half of the season ends with a visit to Haywards Heath the week after, kick off 2.15.