Deal & Betteshanger supporters were rightly happy about their second half comeback to overturn a nine point deficit at half-time; whatever coach Danny Vaughan (remember him?) said at the interval it certainly worked, but it was probably something along the lines of ‘pile on the pressure’. Park, who had probably played better during the first half than at any time last week, were denied the ball and ground down by their hosts’ power.
With ten minutes to go this was still a three-point game but Charlton lost their chance when quicker reactions from the home forwards stole the ball on the floor after a good kick from Joe Simpson had given them an attacking line-out in the corner. From such positions the home side were constantly threatening but Charlton, having won the line-out were unable to protect it under pressure. In contrast, three of Deal’s tries came from driving mauls where Park held out manfully but were gradually swamped.
Park led 10-0 after ten minutes, courtesy of tries from Freddie Naitaka and Jake Conway, and created chances to score at least a couple more. The first came after Alan Knuckey, back at scrum-half, went round the blindside from a scrum, and Conway nipped through from a maul on the line. Unfortunately a late arrival from Simpson meant they had no kickers on the field to add the extra point, but when he arrived two further penalties added to Park’s first half score. The home side had already signalled a warning of what was to come with a close range converted try.
Two more rumbles into the corner at the beginning of the second half gave Deal a one-point lead but Charlton were entitled to think things were going against them when a clearance kick was touched by an attempted charge down and ended up in the arms of the Deal winger, way ahead of the play but onside and with no-one in front of him. Park now needed to get the ball and move it wide, where they had been successful, but they were unable to and by now the home side were irresistible.
Anyone watching rugby games on the box over the weekend will have recognised England Ladies and Harlequins doing similar things to their opponents. Nobody for Charlton Park could be faulted for effort, but you have to play rugby with the ball and they were denied it. Park were beaten by a better team who played really well. Enough said.