30 NOVEMBER 2013
In a match between two sides that had contrasting styles of play it was Charlton Park’s that prevailed enabling them to continue their run of success when they earned a hard fought win over a resilient Lewes side last Saturday.
From the opening kick off it was evident that both sides had a different style of play and having absorbed an initial thrust from Lewes it was Charlton that settled the quickest into their game plan utilising their forwards to take the game to Lewes. It was following a rolling maul, that Charlton opened the scoring when they took the ball through a series of phases of play and an astute pass from fly half Liam Cleary was taken by Sam Baker who drove over to score the opening try.
With a lead and having the advantage in the forward exchanges Charlton began to express themselves showing good handling and ball retention and bringing their backs into play with both wingers “BJ” Bridges and Reion Rabye and full back Tom Coad making telling runs. Despite playing with flair Charlton were unable until midway through the half increase their lead and it was through their forwards. Through out the half Lewes had struggled at the scrummage and when at a scrum five metres from their goal line they were pushed backwards Charlton’s Number 8, Rob Saunderson took the opportunity to touch the ball down for the second try of the game and with Cleary adding the conversion Charlton had built a slight buffer.
The ensuing restart kick provided a nightmare for Lewes as Saunderson’s well timed jump and tap back of the ball to Baker beat the chasing Lewes players in their efforts to win back to the ball. Baker then proceeded to show another facet of his play, namely his running skills, by making a jinking sixty metres run up field, during which he side stepped several Lewes defenders, to score his second try of the game and with the ball being touched down under the goal posts he aided Cleary’s second conversion of the half.
Holding the lead Charlton then appeared to relax and Lewes took the opportunity to show their expertise to attack with direct and well judged running lines allied to good passing and handling skills. It required all of Charlton’s defensive qualities to deny Lewes, what would have been a well merited score, for the remainder of the first half as Charlton began, under the Lewes pressure, make mistakes or give away possession for infringements or badly taken options.
The start of the second half saw a change in fortunes for Lewes as they started the better of the two sides as they regained possession of the ball from the kick off and their direct running and handling saw them score a try within the space of thirty seconds. Buoyed by the score it required a last ditch chase back and tackle from Rabye two minutes later to deny Lewes a second try as the home started to look menacing and attacking with real verve as they realised that they might be able to turn the match round.
With Charlton giving away penalties Lewes grew into their game and Charlton’s normal defence qualities seemed to desert them as they started to drop off tackles and in their efforts to thwart Lewes’s flowing play give away penalties. It was following Charlton being adjudged off side quick thinking saw Lewes take a quick tapped penalty and they used the chance well to break through a retreating Charlton defensive line to score a converted try to set Charlton’s supporters’ nerves jangling.
With their advantage reduced to only seven points this seemed to motivate Charlton and concentrate their minds and from the restart a good chase saw them win back the ball which they took through a number of phases leading to them being awarded a penalty in front of the goal posts. Cleary made his third successful kick of the match to settle the nerves for Charlton Park.
With their composure restored Charlton then started to re-establish their patterns of play and their driving play began to make inroads into the Lewes half. It was following a move that saw the ball pass through a number of both handling and driving phases that Charlton increased their lead when Mark Harlow-Singh scored Charlton’s fourth try to secure a bonus point and extend the lead.
It required a very good turnover at a ruck, when following a break out of their twenty two metre area Lewes took the ball deep into Charlton’s half but this turnover was the catalyst for Charlton‘s fifth try. With the Lewes defence trying to run back Rabye accelerated into the open space and when he was finally caught Neil Collins, making a welcome return to league rugby, was on hand to take the final pass to score a try to put the match out of the reach of Lewes.
Through out the game Lewes’ running game had been impressive and to give them hope of gaining a losing bonus point they continued to run the ball and this lead to them scoring a third try with an end to end handling move. Charlton were not prepared to let the match slip and it was from a series of scrums five metres from the Lewes goal line that saw them running the time remaining down. The advantage in the scrum, shown since the opening minutes was to prove beneficial as they pushed Lewes backwards on a number of occasions and in the home side in their efforts to stop the drive had a player “yellowed carded” and the numerical advantage saw Charlton drive a scrum over the try line and Saunderson dropped on the ball to score his second try of the game secured the win for Charlton.
By Roe Belcher
Lewes’ view of the match:
Lewes go down fighting
With the bottom side playing the team second in the League, this could have been a rout for Lewes, especially as they were 0 – 19 down after only 26 minutes. But to their credit, they fought back with style, scoring 3 tries in the second half through scintillating back play. It was only the superior strength of the visitors’ pack which saw them finally pull away to a comfortable, bonus-point win.
It took Park 11 minutes to get on the score-board after they worked their way down to Lewes’s 22 metre area before their flanker, Baker, touched down for the opening, unconverted try to lead 0 – 5. A second followed after 26 minutes, Park’s No. 8 Saunderson finishing off a push-over try, converted by outside-half Cleary to make it 0 – 12, and straight from the re-start, Baker scored his second try under the posts, converted by Cleary, to stretch the advantage to 0 – 19.Up to this point, Park were winning all the possession and territory, but were not so dominant in the second as a spirited Lewes fought back., scoring their first, but unconverted, try immediately from the kick-off with replacement winger Kris Wilder finishing off a great move to reduce the arrears to 5 – 19. Flanker Matt Blunt then scored Lewes’s second try on the left a few moments later, converted by outside-half Jon Pitts to pull back to 12 – 19.However, Park went further ahead 12 – 22 after 50 minutes with a penalty from Cleary and 12 – 27 some five minutes later after strong forward pressure, enabling second-row Harlow-Singh to touch down for an unconverted try. When Park extended their lead to 12 – 32 with an unconverted try by centre Collins, the large crowd thought the game was over. But Lewes kept battling away, their impressive backs continually breaking through the visitors’ defence, with inside-centre Josh McGlynn prominent in finding the gaps at every opportunity. This play was rewarded on 77 minutes when another flowing move was rounded off on the left by outside-centre Lenny Van der Velde for Lewes’s third, but unconverted, try to make it 17 – 32.
Unfortunately however, Park had the final say, Saunderson scoring another push-over try in the dying seconds after Lewes’s flanker Dave Were was sin-binned, the missed conversion seeing this entertaining game end at 17 – 37. Another difficult match for Lewes, but one positive was the fine performance by 2nd XV tight-head prop, Andy Green, making his debut for the 1st’s.