This comprehensive win in the bucolic, autumnal surroundings of Heathfield & Waldron lifted Charlton Park to third place in the table, behind Horsham and runaway leaders Beckenham, and highlighted the all-court skills coach Lee Amzaleg is instilling in his players.
With a pack that can outgun most teams Charlton feasted on a surfeit of ball to run in 49 second half points, with backs and forwards interchanging confidently. Heathfield stuck manfully to their task – they have fielded over forty different players in their first eight games of the season and never threw in the towel, but for all but some moments in the first half and notably a try in the second when down, harshly, to 13 men, they simply couldn’t get their hands on the ball for any extended period of time.
Despite Rob Saunderson’s hat-trick, taking him to ten tries for the season so far while Reion Raybe stands on the sideline, and a couple more for Jake Conway, man-of-the-match went deservedly to Mark Harlow-Singh. He ruled the midfield, carrying and offloading from the tackle time and again, the pick being a sumptuous little flick to Conway on the burst. And, after Saunderson had given Park the lead, it was his run through the tackle that allowed the supporting Alan Knuckey to extend the lead. A further try under a pile of bodies from Ben Pritchard and a Knuckey penalty gave the visitors a twenty-point cushion at half-time.
Playing into the sun and a gusty wind had played havoc with some of Charlton’s ambitions in the first half but with the aid of sun, wind and, for some time, numbers, Park spread the ball. There followed a succession of tries from all distances, all converted by Knuckey, with Saunderson, Nightingale and Conway galloping in from distance, interspersed with a pushover credited to Number 8 Nick Aston, a charge down for Conway and a snipe from Alex Miller after Jeremy Montes could have scored himself.
It was hard on Heathfield. Theirs is a lovely ground and they are the best of hosts – food, beer and bonhomie to savour. We hope they don’t go down after all the good and hard encounters we’ve had with them. Anyway, after the treacle pudding I’ve already booked my lunch there next year.
With Park on a high, next week’s lay-off comes, perhaps, at the wrong time, but we regather on 17th November at Broad Walk for the visit of Deal & Betteshanger.