At the end of the game Andy Miller was relatively sanguine about this narrow defeat at Guildford on Saturday, wanting to lay the emphasis on a spirited late comeback rather than what went before when Charlton Park were profligate and then outpowered by a side desperate to get back to their winning ways after a series of narrow defeats.
Certainly Park were up against it with twenty minutes to go and 17-6 down. They had lost captain and talisman Terry Read and the scrum was creaking against opponents who had made life difficult even for a full-strength pack and Guildford’s third try had opened up the midfield alarmingly easily. Further injuries to Mick Casizzi and Reion Raybe forced multiple reshuffles and the travelling faithful (more of whom later) were beginning to fear the worst. The scrum, with props Rob Saunderson and Beau Stanford-Francis finding fresh reserves of energy, fought back impressively, and rather than admit defeat Charlton threw caution to the wind, took quick tap penalties and spun the ball around. Despite the pressure, however, the home side only conceded the one try, to Neil Collins after Alan Knuckey had tapped quickly.
Park started the game confidently and it was difficult to see how they had failed to score after a break from Saunderson and Casizzi. For twenty minutes they had all the chances but had only a Thor Normann penalty to show for it. Then it became Guildford’s turn to attack. A yellow card to Normann led to a driving try, converted, although Park were able to narrow the gap to a point before half-time when Casizzi kicked a penalty.
Playing down the slope in the second half Guildford piled on the pressure with two more tries, but Charlton’s late rally rewarded them with a bonus point. For a game which had little relevance other than pride in performance this was a full-blooded and exciting, if error-strewn, game. The right team won on the day, but with a little more accuracy with the final pass Charlton might just have prevailed. Mark Harlow-Singh was, once again, a dominant force with his ball-carrying and Raybe was all over the field looking for the ball.
Once again the supporters’ club outing came up with a memorable story, but if you want to know the full ins and outs of Terry Thompson’s round in Guildford Wetherspoons you’ll have to ask Roger Foxon.
On Sunday the club hosted the Kent Under 14 Shield and Plate preliminary rounds and our thanks go to Elaine Duffus, the kitchen and bar staff and the committee members who rocked up to make a very successful day for the club.