Charlton Park overcame a slow start to score eight tries against Horsham, and in doing so consolidated their fourth place in the league.
Of the two teams Horsham seemed to be the readier for the match and forced Charlton into a number of errors that saw Horsham establish good field position in the Charlton half. It was after such a period of Horsham domination in most aspects of play that saw the visitors open the scoring. Unable to clear the ball out of their half Charlton conceded a lineout in their twenty-two-metre area and following Horsham winning good quality possessions and a following slick handling the visitors opened the scoring with a converted try in the first ten minutes of play.
The loss of a player to the sin bin for ten minutes for a high tackle, under the new laws, seemed to galvanise Charlton and shake them out of their lethargy and a period of strong goal line defence saw Horsham denied of a further score. Despite an initial wobble in forward play an un unplanned substitution and restored to their full quota of players in their back row saw Charlton’s pack began to exert an influence in all exchanges. It was following a forward drive Charlton were awarded a penalty direct in front of the goal posts and Barry O’Keeffe duly kicked the points to narrow Horsham’s advantage.
It was an error by Horsham at a line out, close to their goal line that saw the ball break into Charlton’s possession and following the ball being taken through a series of phases before Alan Knuckey from close range made a dart to touch the ball down for a try. A break from the base of a scrum break by Luke Boyns that set-in motion Charlton going close to increasing their lead when a kick and chase by Tshepo Mooki saw the ball tantalisingly elude his grasp with the try line open and he knocked the ball forward.
However, Mooki was not to be denied a try when following the scrum, Horsham’s clearance kick was caught by O’Keeffe and following good support play and a break and pass from Montes Mooki was put into space and he duly touched the ball down for Charlton’s second try of the half. Mooki then became the creator of Charlton’s third try of the half when following a passage of play his chip over the advancing Horsham defence was chased by Tommy Nightingale and he regained possession to touch the ball down. With a capacious wind a number of conversion attempts missed being caught on the wind.
With both sides running the ball a successful penalty by Horsham narrowed Charlton’s lead but it not seem to influence Charlton’s resolve as their forwards continued to dominate. It was following Horsham knocking the ball forwards, it their attempt to put Charlton onto the back foot that saw Boyns once again pick up at the base of the ensuing scrum, and following slick passing and direct running the ball was taken through phases with the flowing move being finished off by “Tibs” Dimofte.
Holding a comfortable half time lead Charlton started the second half in a similar mode to the way they had finished the first by attacking at every opportunity with 15 man play. It was following a run of defence that saw Charlton laying siege to the Horsham try line as they went in search of a fifth try. In their efforts to defend Horsham were forced into conceding a string of penalties and with their forwards in the ascendency Charlton opted for a series of scrummages. Despite Charlton having crossed the goal line they were deemed to have been held up by solid defence from Horsham who to their credit defended the threat well and it was with relief that the visitors’’ defence managed to nullify the threat.
Horsham, with their spirits noticeably buoyed by the defensive play enjoyed a period of pressure in Charlton’s twenty-two metre area but despite their efforts Charlton thwarted their efforts and it was a break out of their dead ball area that saw the threat nullified.
It was a turn over deep in Charlton’s twenty-two metre area and a break from Mark Harlow-Singh that was the catalyst for Charlton scoring a further four tries in the last twenty minutes of the match. With Harlow-Singh making valuable metres up field good support play from Mooki saw his pass to Knuckey put into space for the scrum half to touch the ball down for his second try of the match which he subsequently converted.
It was a storming run by Rob Saunderson and Harlow-Singh aided by good passing that saw Charlton being awarded a penalty close to the Horsham goal line and having failed earlier in the half this time they opted for field position and following a driving maul Stephen Laverie flopped down over the goal line to touch the ball down for a sixth try.
To compound Horsham’s woes their restart kick was allowed to bounce into touch and from the following lineout the ball was moved swiftly to John Beith and his break and subsequent pass enabled Reion Raybe, making a welcome return to league play, take the opportunity to score Charlton’s seventh try of the match.
The final minutes of the match saw Charlton disrupt Horsham’s attempts to score a consolation try and following a kick up field from Knuckey Mooki was on hand to gather the ball to score the final try of the game that was subsequently converted by Knuckey with the final kick of the match.
Next Saturday Charlton are due to be away at Bromley to play the fixture postponed from 14th January due to frozen pitches.