Charlton Park, in the space of a week suffered the highs and lows of league rugby when following their first win a week before they suffered, on Saturday, a comprehensive defeat against a Dover side who had not won a game this season.
Due to a large number of injuries and unavailability Charlton’s team was showing a large number of changes to personnel and this fact was reflected in their play in the first half play when from the kick off they were forced onto the back foot deep in their own half of the pitch. To compound Charlton’s problems they struggled to gain any real continuity and especially in tight play Dover were the dominant force.
Under continual pressure from Dover Charlton’s play began to suffer and they began to fall off tackles and ill directed passes and misdirected kicks meant that errors creeped into their play and Dover were totally in the ascendency. The net result of Charlton’s errors was to see that play was almost entirely played in Charlton’s half of the pitch.
Dover were very quick to capitalise on Charlton’s mistakes and allied to the home side’s dominance in the tight play enabled Dover to exhibit good all round ball skills and several marginal balls seemed to be attracted into a Dover and, even after ricochets off their side’s players. With Charlton backpedalling for large periods of the half the try count rose in the home side’s favour as they scored tries from all parts of the pitch, securing a try bonus point, to score 29 points establishing an almost unassailable lead with Charlton responding with an Alex Miller penalty kick.
Despite the almost one way traffic in the first half several aspects of Charlton’s play were beginning to emerge with wing Reion Rabye making several telling runs and Sam Baker’s presence at the break down gave an element of hope for a change of fortunes in the second half.
Due to Charlton suffering further injuries in the first half and at the start of the second period of play they were forced to rejig their team and despite players not playing in their normal positions these enforced changes seemed to stabilise their play.
After the initial exchanges Charlton began to show their true colours and the second half saw them mount a much improved display. It was following a scrum, an aspect of play that they had struggled with in the first half, that Charlton finally scored a try, when after good work at the back of the scrum of by makeshift number eight Kevin Badger aided by wing BJ Bridges at blindside flanker, scrum half Tom Grocott’s darting play took Dover by surprise enabling him to score a try. Miller made no error with the resultant conversion to give hope to the Charlton side.
The try seemed to immediately give purpose to Charlton’s play and their tackling seemed to improve with Tommy Nightingale, as the last line of defence, making several try denying tackles on Dover players.
When not acting as the last line of defence, Nightingale was entering into the attack and he created several good scoring opportunities with his direct running style but regrettably for Charlton the wrong option was taken and the chances were wasted.
With Charlton beginning to play more of the game in the Dover half the home side began to give away penalties of their own Charlton’s self-belief rose.
It was Miller who created Charlton’s second try of the afternoon when his cut out pass outflanked the advancing Dover defence and Reion Rabye finally gained recompense for his runs throughout the match when he touched the ball down. With time running out Charlton pressed but for them unfortunately without success. Against Charlton’s renaissance in the second half Dover were only able to score a further one try, an occurrence of which at half time would have not seemed possible as it had looked likely that they would have scored a great deal more.
Next Saturday Charlton entertain Medway at Broadwalk with kick off at 3.00pm.