Another highly enjoyable, adventurous but error-strewn game for Charlton Park, this time ending in a home win. Despite their power up front, Park rightly continue to ignore the pleas from the side to stick it up the jumper, often then spilling the ball or kicking it aimlessly back to the opposition’s most threatening player – last week Darts’ left wing Liam Brencher, this week Pulborough’s quicksilver full back Henry Lee. On occasion, however, everything connects to devastating effect, as in their final try of eight yesterday when they suddenly opened up ten metres from their line and a series of hands ended with Alan Knuckey running in his third try from 40 metres after a final inside pass from Reion Raybe.
In simple terms this was a game between Park’s pack and the visitors’ backs and it was the home scrum that won the day. Despite their recent results, however, Pulborough showed enough skill and determination to suggest they will not be a pushover for anyone this season. They demonstrated their speed and running ability when full-back Lee scored under the posts in the first minutes, but Charlton came back to secure the four-try bonus point by half-time; two tries for scrummaging, to Knuckey and Luke Boyns, and two for slick handling finished by Tommy Nightingale and Mick Casizzi.
After the break, the visitors once again started with a bang, right winger Ben Miller latching onto a chip through. Once again enormous scrum pressure, some of it deemed illegal, led to Beau Stanford-Francis (to great acclaim) finishing off some forward charges, and then a penalty try after a scrum caved in. As now seems to be the case, Park took the foot off the pedal, or more probably Pulborough raised themselves and two quick tries gave them a four-try bonus and brought the score back to 38-26, before Knuckey scored his sixth and seventh tries in the last two home games (but then missed the final conversion under the posts that would have brought up 50 points).
This was the first ever meeting between CP and Pulborough, and we look forward to another exciting game down in the bucolic depths of Sussex in the New Year.
Unfortunately, the by-no-means weak second team faced the other side of rugby in going down to a heavy defeat to Tonbridge Juddian, a club four levels higher who apparently no longer have a 2s, and play their professional reserves as their third team! This is the unacceptable face of league rugby. On the other side of the coin, some Park players played twice for the 3rds and Fuffs to ensure everyone who wanted a game got one, and suffered as a result.
I know which club I’d rather be part of.
Next week it’s the cup, and a difficult home tie with Old Reigatians, unbeaten so far this season.