Chobham 23 : 22 Charlton Park

There is a truism that when you’re winning, things go for you, and when you’re not, they don’t. This fitted the second option.

Those who saw the home loss to Havant will know what I mean. Then we had every chance to win, but a couple of wrong options when the scores were level changed the game. This week against Chobham we did really snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The eighty minutes long since up, in the eighth minute of time added-on, Chobham camped on the Park line, heroic defence, and another blast on the whistle and a penalty just to the left of the posts. The home kicker slotted it calmly and unerringly, the final whistle went and Charlton players and supporters slumped amid the home celebrations.

It was hard to take, particularly as it was déjà vu – the last kick has also done for Park against Maidstone and Gosport & Fareham this season – a cumulative loss of seven points that would have made up the difference between relegation and safety. However, as Doug Hursey and the players came to recognise, this was a performance in adversity which shows Charlton Park at its best. And no-one epitomises that more than Trev, the Rev, Jacquet, not only playing the whole 80 minutes at tight head at the age of 60 but the cornerstone of an immense Park scrum which blew Chobham off path and deserved at least a share of the spoils. How he does it no-one knows.

After falling behind to an unconverted try Park took the lead through a Reion Raybe special, dancing out of tackles in the middle of the field and then leaving the full back for dead. Chobham retook the lead while Charlton were reduced to thirteen, but Park were ahead at half-time when the scrum pushed over, having already been denied by a post at the previous attempt.

In the second half Charlton increased their lead when Rob Saunderson secured his second pushover, and Alex Miller kicked a good penalty, but the danger of Chobham’s backs was always a threat and Park never managed to get more than a score ahead. As it was, the conversions were missed to two tries wide out, enabling the only successful kick from the home team to win the game and get five league points to Park’s one. Hard to take.

This was league rugby as it should be – hard and niggly maybe, because it meant something, but hardly meriting the six yellow cards distributed seemingly arbitrarily. There were further injuries to both sides and Park’s lack of back-row cover affected them. However they refused to lie down – Mark Harlow-Singh led from the front, Alan Knuckey was a constant threat, Dave Foreman improves with every game.  The host players were generous afterwards and Park will get over it. When you’re down no-one helps you up but yourselves.