25 JANUARY 2014

Through out the last few years the matches played in the league between the two sides have been closely contested games and the latest encounter proved to be no different with the pitch conditions proving to be a factor in effecting play for both sides.

From the onset Crowborough were intent on taking the match to Charlton as from the quick off they drove into Charlton who were forced onto the back foot and having to defend. Crowborough’s enterprise was rewarded when they were awarded a long range penalty attempt, which unfortunately for the home side dropped short of the target.

Using the near miss to their advantage Charlton settled into their game and began to drive into the Crowborough half with mark Harlow-Singh in the vanguard of the attacked ably assisted by his fellow forwards with Terry Read, looking remarkably fresh after flying in from Canada on Saturday morning, providing extra driving power to the play.

From the first scrummage in the match it was evident that Charlton had the advantage in weight and technique to forced pressure on to Crowborough in the tight and this proved to be the catalyst for Charlton’s first score of the game. Following a series of scrums close to the Crowborough goal line Charlton began to nudge the home side backwards enabling number eight forward Rob Saunderson to drive over to score the try to take the lead.

With Charlton controlling the forward exchanges, including pressurising both scrums and line out Crowborough tried to utilise their home knowledge of the local condictions to try and run the ball at every opportunity but with both sides’ defence play nullifying any threat from their opponents and errors abounding the first half finished in both sides realising that the game was theirs for the taking.

Through out the first half Thor Normann’s kicking from hand allied to good line out possession had ensured that Charlton had retained good field position; and although Charlton had made a number of handling and passing errors in the first half their backs especially wingers Reion Rabye and “BJ” Bridges making telling runs with full back Tom Coad joining the line when able they had given glimpses of their true potential

It was following a run and chip from Rabye and a cut out pass from Norman that saw Bridges being put into space and when he was tackled good recycling of the ball saw the ball being taken at speed by Coad joining the line and his run took him through the Crowborough defence to touch the ball down for Charlton’s second try.

The last fifteen minutes of the half saw a slight swing in fortunes as following Read taking a well earned rest following his endeavours in both the tight and loose play Crowborough began to have a larger share of possession and began to press in search of scores. Despite Crowborough’s best attempts Charlton’s defence remained resilient to the increased pressure.

It was Crowborough’s efforts, in the last few minutes of the match, to try and secure some material reward for their efforts that lead to Charlton scoring their third try of the match. Following a good run form tommy Nightingale Charlton were awarded a penalty and following for a kick for territory the successful line out and a rolling maul saw Saunderson touching the ball down for his second try of the game.

By Roe Belcher


Crowborough’s view of the match:

Crowborough welcomed league leaders Charlton Park to Steel Cross last weekend with ‘Boro determined to kick start their season and Park determined to keep their promotion hopes alive. Games between these two sides, although not always close, have been hard fought and last Saturdays affair was to be no exception.

On a heavy pitch Crowborough took the match to Park from the kick off, driving into the large Park pack, and within minutes, ‘Boro had the opportunity to take the lead with a penalty some 40 metres out, and although Chris Yates had the direction the ball dropped short and the line was cleared. As Park regrouped they were soon camped deep in the ‘Boro 22, but Crowborough have always been able to rely upon their diminutive pack to surprise larger units with their scrummaging technique. However on this occasion Park’s huge pack, led by Kent prop Terry Reed, showed that they also had the technique and the weight to back it up, and drove the ‘Boro unit back and over their line for an unconverted score.0-5

Crowborough were not fazed by this set back,( in spite of Reed, who would continue his master class of the “dark arts of the front row ” for the fifty-five minutes that he was on the field), and continued to move the ball wide only to be met by a solid defensive phalanx at every turn. When Park had the opportunity to attack they similarly ran into an equally well drilled and determined ’Boro defensive unit, creating somewhat of a stalemate for the rest of the half ending 0-5.

With neither set of backs able to get the upper hand it was left to the forwards to battle it out for the next score. With Crowborough less than certain about winning their own lineout ball defensive kicks were aimed deep up-field. Unfortunately Park were often able to return the kicks with interest, in the sure belief that they would be able to retain line out possession. From one such line out the Park pack rolled the maul towards the ‘Boro line and despite the home side’s best efforts the score was awarded but the kick again was missed. 0-10

With some relief, Reed left the field with fifteen minutes remaining, and immediately ‘Boro regained the scrummaging upper hand, providing quick ball for their backs. With Mitch Malherbe creating havoc in the centre with runs from the blind side, and Tom Nicoll showing a clear pair of heals to his opposite number, a score was looking more likely. However Park are not top of the league for nothing and they continued to demonstrate a composed defence in spite of the increasing pressure.

For the past two matches Crowborough have earned themselves a bonus point, and with a win now looking less likely, they began to throw everything into attack in an attempt to force Park into an error within kicking distance, to gain the losing bonus point.

As is often the case, the objective gets lost in the intensity of the game, and when Park had a penalty in their own half they drilled it into the ‘Boro 22. From the lineout the ball was shipped wide to the left, with the ‘Boro defence covering across.

When Matt Tyler brought the move to a crunching halt, Park set up the ruck, and with a pick and drive pulled in more defenders before feeding #10, Thor Normann who threw a huge cut out pass across the field to his right wing who had acres of space in which to operate. The ‘Boro defence scrambled to reorganise, and although the wing was initially halted, the support was there in numbers to finish off the move. The kick went unconverted as the referee blew for full time, with a score line that was arguably unrepresentative of the closeness of the encounter 0-15.