In a full blooded game, played in appalling conditions, by two highly committed sides, Charlton emerged the winners in a closely fought and ultimately total engrossing match for both sets of supporters’ by a narrow margin.

With the game being played between two of the top three sides in the League a tight game was envisaged and this proved to be the case. On a pitch that showed evidence of a social event the previous night and in the middle of torrential rain it was Deal that settled into their game the better of the two sides and from the onset exerted pressure to set up field position in the Charlton twenty two metre area and it required considerable effort from Charlton to thwart Deal’s muscular efforts.

Although under pressure Charlton’s scrummage was operating efficiently just gaining the upper hand at most of the engagements and it was slightly against the form shown when Deal were awarded a penalty when Charlton were adjudged to offended and the resultant kick was successful giving Deal a narrow lead.

Despite trying to play out of their half Charlton, due to the conditions, appeared to be offending more of the time than usually and any momentum that they managed to generated was negated by losing control of the ball or giving away penalties which enabled Deal to relieve any pressure. Although playing on the back foot glimpses of their attacking was shown with telling breaks from Reion Rabye and Tom Coad both running the ball out of defence.

Having defended well for twenty minutes Charlton worked their way up field and following a well drilled Line out Deal, in their efforts to stop the subsequent drive, were adjudged to have offended and Thor Normann kicked the resultant penalty to level the scores. To compound Deal’s problems from the restart kick the ball did not travel the required ten metres and from the ensuing scrum Charlton drove Deal backwards and the resulting penalty was once again kicked by Normann to give Charlton the lead.

With the game finely balanced both sides were in a position to take the initiative and it was Charlton that began to gain a slight advantage as they utilised their forwards to drive towards the Deal goal line aided by some good running. In the last few minutes despite pressurising Deal were awarded a penalty, close to the Charlton try line and it required collective defence by all members of Charlton’s team to deny Deal an equalising score.

The second half started in a similar vein to how the first had finished with both teams in an “arm wrestle” to gain a momentary advantage and it was finally Charlton who gained the upper hand when following a flowing move Charlton were awarded a five metre scrum which the referee adjudged Deal collapsed. Charlton opted for another scrum when awarded the resulting penalty and when being pushed backwards Deal offended again and a penalty try was given in favour of Charlton which was converted by Normann.

With the game delicately poised both teams continued to press and it was following a incursion into Charlton’s half Deal gave a glimmer of hope to themselves when following them being awarded a penalty they opted for field position, and following a well rehearsed drill they scored a try to set up a tense final period of the match for both sides.

Charlton, to their credit did not sit back on their lead and both Rabye and Sam Naden made fine runs out of defence to relieve pressure and Charlton’s defence, when called upon, was resolute. Despite play being predominantly in the Deal half the home side were dangerous on the break and It required a last ditch tackle from Tommy Nightingale tracking back to deny Deal a second try.

It was fine defensive play by Mark Harlow-Singh who drove through the centre of a Deal maul that almost created a try when his hack through was chased and dribbled by Rabye and he unfortunately he was denied a score by desperate defence from the home side.

The last ten minutes were tense for both sides but it was Charlton who prevailed as they spent the remaining time deep in the Deal half of the pitch retaining possession and denying the home any real major possession with which they could mount an attack.

With a sense of Deja-vu Charlton play once again next week Deal who they meet at Broad Walk next Saturday in a second round fixture in the Intermediate Cup kick-off 2.00 pm.In addition on Sunday they visit Old Elthamians to play a second round Kent Cup fixture, kick off 2.00 pm.

By Roe Belcher