With the league season in its final throes, and a promotion play-off place now out of the question, Charlton Park could have been forgiven if their minds were elsewhere on Saturday. The rapidly approaching Intermediate Cup semi-final at home to Cornish side Truro on Saturday week is in the back of everyone’s minds now, and with prop, second row, back row, fly-half and centre injuries this visit to Crowborough’s rural retreat turned out to be a welcome focus-point. One player, Charlton scrum-half Alan Knuckey, is going through a purple patch and his three tries today make it a personal ten in the last four games
Past encounters between the two sides have often been for higher stakes. Crowborough have been the victims of some of their more predatory neighbouring clubs in recent years and the loss of so many promising local lads to the money has left this very welcoming club with stretched resources. However, such situations can’t last and Park look forward to future visits to the Sussex countryside in the near future.
The home side have been enjoying an upsurge in form since the new year, and this was apparent in a tight first half. After the break, however, the Charlton juggernaut scrum took over and provided a stream of possession, some of which was used and some which was frittered away. Crowborough took an early lead from a penalty before Alan Knuckey nipped in after some heavy Park pressure. However, his number 9 counterpart scored an even better try soon afterwards to put the home side back in the lead, seizing on a wayward line-out to outrun everyone from halfway. Just when it seemed Charlton Park would be behind at half-time Jeremy Montes sliced through the centre to score by the posts.
Immediately after the break Knuckey got his second with a break from a ruck, and this was followed by the try of the match with the forwards making the initial dents and then quick passing putting Reion Raybe in at the corner. Now Park were rolling, with streams of possession from the scrum and straight running up the middle of the field. Fly-half Alex Miller came from deep to accelerate through a gap for the fifth, which was rapidly followed by a penalty try following a scrum on the line and then Knuckey broke away for his third hat-trick in a month. Crowborough were not yet done and deserved their second, a result of support play, before Luke Boyns barrelled over for the last. Alex Miller converted five for a final score of 50 – 15.
Next week, for their final league game, Charlton Park welcome Old Alleynians, with a VP lunch, and there will also be a buffet lunch the following week for the Truro game. The week after that we welcome Thanet Wanderers to Broad Walk for a Kent Shield semi-final.