After last week’s backs-fest, such is the Charlton Park way that four of them were unavailable this week. Fortunately the return of the front row more than compensated. The Charlton Park forwards dominated the Dover pack, enabling them to control the game, particularly in the second half when they have been vulnerable in previous games. Having the ball and using it wisely helped to shut down the threat posed by home fly-half Martin Beaumont, although he still contributed all but five of Dover’s points.

Park had clearly been spending some time on their line-out drills during the week. They started with a catch and an emphatic driving maul which led to the first of two penalty tries within the first couple of minutes, and were able to take most if not all of their own ball plus a good chunk of the opposition’s throughout the game. But it was the scrum which had the greatest effect, particularly once they had realised that a second surge caused the Dover forwards to buckle. The first one didn’t come till over the ten minute mark, but it showed the way to go. Luke Boyns went over from number 8 and then, given a series of penalties from which they chose to pack down Alex Miller made use of an advantage to kick to the wing, Welsh-style, where Jake Conway soared to catch and run behind the posts.

 

Despite three tries Charlton only led 21-17 at the break. They were constantly penalised and Beaumont made them pay with four penalties before his grubber kick through enabled the right winger to score in the corner. This deficit was reduced to 24-all early in the second half when Dover moved the ball left from their own scrum and the number ten skipped through, but from then on Park piled on the pressure and were able to extend their lead again.  Terry Read barged over and then a second penalty try, this time from a scrum, sealed the win.

Any of the forwards could have been man-of -the-match; Coach Lee gave it to Read, the opposition gave it to Boyns. Alex Miller kicked very well, although he suffered a disconcerting injury in the last minute and Vaki Antoniou and Jeremy Montes were threats.

It was a good day, made all the better by the outstanding hospitality shown by our Dover hosts. The two clubs seem to get on very well, and it was just like old times in the bar afterwards.

Next week we host Old Colfeians in the pre-Christmas match. It’s bound to be tight so get down for the lunch and support the team. Then there’s a couple of weeks off before we head to Old Cranleighans (near Esher) on the 4th January in the 3rd round of the Intermediate Cup.