Charlton Park have found Haywards Heath a tough nut to crack on their home ground since their hosts’ promotion back into the league three years ago. As the players slowly dissolved into the storm on Saturday Haywards Heath finished Charlton off again with a last minute try by their left winger to deny the visitors even a losing bonus point in a game between well-matched teams.
In an eighty-minute slog against the lashing rain and a pitch rapidly turning into a swamp the home side probably deserved their win after holding off the Park scrum for much of the second half, and for putting together the one or two passages of rugby in the game. Charlton will rue their inability to take advantage of that dominant period but credit must go to the home defence for holding them out.
The Biblical weather conditions forced most of the organised rugby out of the game, slowly throttling the futile efforts of both sides to move the ball. The rain turned the ball into soap, the wind made any pass a hazardous choice, and the cold left the outside backs wondering what they were doing there. Add to that the strange decision of the referee to allow both sides to play in red so that, for most of the second half, it was impossible for spectators to see who was who.
For the record, Heath started well and their driving back row and backs linked together to fashion a good try, converted into the wind. Park lifted themselves and were soon level when Tommy Nightingale sneaked over after a spell of pressure had reduced the home side to 14 men.
A penalty off the post gave Haywards Heath a three point lead at half-time so Park had to face the conditions in the second half. Park camped on the line, almost (should have) scored on several occasions but finally Heath broke out and had the final word.
From Charlton Park’s point of view it was a disappointing result but not a poor display. Tactically we could have stayed closer together, kept passes short and kicked more effectively but there was no shortage of effort and fine margins determined the result. Some narrow decisions went against us and there were one or two worrying injuries but the team stayed disciplined when it might not have.
It was good to hear that three Charlton Park teams took the field, with wins for the other two. Next week the World Cup Final takes precedence over club games so get down to the club on Saturday morning for the big final party.
And best wishes to Mr Twitter, who will be absent for a few weeks.