The circling of the wagons called for in last week’s report can be put on hold – the cavalry has arrived, maybe briefly, maybe not. With half a dozen regulars rightly taking some time off or resting niggles, it was the return of the McMullan brothers and Mark Harlow-Singh that triggered a sparkling performance from Charlton Park as the confidence gradually returned.
42 points was a harsh deficit to be laid on Beccehamians on their second visit to Broad Walk this year, this time in the second round of the Intermediate Cup. Park did not score a point for 20 minutes, during which the visitors held the upper hand both in the scrum and the line out. In fact throughout the game Beccs more than matched Charlton for territory and possession but they were unable to cope with the speed and confidence that oozed through once the home side got their hands on the ball.
For the first quarter Charlton Park were guilty, if anything, of kicking away the bits of possession they had. It was Alex Miller, who had an assured game at fly half, who breached the dam, bursting onto the ball after the forwards had done the carrying. His kick was one of six impressive conversions during the game. Ben McMullan then latched onto a loose ball to race away under the posts and with the last kick of the half Miller hit the post trying to convert Josh McMullan’s try in the corner after the backs had handled and Jeremy Montes had slipped a pass out of the tackle on the line. In between the visitors had fashioned a lovely try of their own with some quick passing on the left.
Two long range tries under the posts in the first five minutes of the second half might have been thought to finish the game off, but those with memories of the September league match would have had other ideas. Josh McMullan got his second and then a carry from Harlow-Singh and a burst from Vaki Antoniou led to Jack Hudson touching down.
Beccs pulled a try back but by now Park were running everything they could. Josh McMullen’s break, and then Ally McQuitty’s run both found the ever-present Jake Conway on their shoulder for 30-yard run-ins, and finally it was McQuitty himself bursting over with the final try to take the score over the 50.
This was an ebullient team display, but mention must go to the youth, experience and downright age of front-rowers Archie McDonnell, Russ Penton and Nick Hollier supporting their captain’s second foray at hooker. However, it was without a doubt the buzz from the Ulstermen that ignited it. There was a sense in the club afterwards that a corner may have been turned – we’ll have to see. Next week it’s our final trek to the coast, to some good friends at Dover, before the pre-Christmas VP lunch for Colfes.