It sounds churlish to complain that a 30 (or 33, depending on your version of the final score) point win at one of our most illustrious opponents was not really up to scratch, but Charlton Park players looked a bit self-critical after Saturday’s encounter at The Mote. Certainly no-one could say this was a poor display – six tries is after all a good return – but…
It was unexpectedly damp, wet even, and there were too many dropped passes, particularly with the line gaping. Much of this could be put down to some spirited and solid defence from the home side who were always combative and had to be held out by determined Park tackling on their own line, but some was easily avoidable.
That said, there were also times when Charlton looked like a well-drilled and fluent team, particularly when they stuck to their game-plan. The first try, and probably the best, came in this way. Quick ball off a line-out with Mark Harlow-Singh carrying and offloading, man-of-the-match Jake Conway bursting through and Ross Sidebottom scoring in the corner. Then the lead was given away with over-ambition in the wet conditions handing Maidstone an interception.
By half-time, however, Park had extended their lead to 24-10, thanks to two tries of differing form. Singh had been yellow-carded and the scrum was under some pressure but Alan Knuckey nipped away down the blind-side, threw a dummy and then put Jeremy Montes way with over half the pitch in front of him. Jeremy is not a speed merchant but a hand-off gave him some momentum and then with the defence snapping at his heels he just made the line, collapsing in an exhausted heap under the posts. The other try came from a clinical line-out drive and finish from Rob Saunderson.
After half-time Park butchered at least two opportunities before Lee Amzaleg rang the changes, with Luke Boyns moving to centre, Tommy Nightingale to scrum-half, and Ally McQuitty, Ed Mason and Steve Laverie coming on. Charlton bucked up, Boyns drove over and then Reion Raybe finished off with two long-range tries, first from an interception and then after Park had turned over a ball in their 22 and he was released with an overlap. Connor McDonald, who had converted everything up till then, contrived to miss the final kick from almost in front.
Next week Charlton Park are at home to league leaders Beckenham, when they will need all the support they can get. There is a pre-match lunch so contact Chris Wheal or the club to book your place.