8 MARCH 2013
In a match that saw flowing play from both sides the well organised Sevenoaks defence restricted Charlton Park scoring opportunities to a minimum although the Charlton enjoyed a superiority in both field position and possession for long periods of the match and a draw was deemed to be a fair result by both sides.
With good conditions the match started at a furious pace with Charlton running the ball with pace and in the opening stages Charlton looked sharp with Mark Harlow-Singh and Terry Read leading the charge and this enabled Charlton’s backs to show their expertise to attack from deep with Reion Rabye catching the eye with an early powerful run.
From the outset Charlton’s forwards had established a good basis for play and with the welcome return from a long term series of injuries of Ross McManus Charlton’s line out functioned well with good quality possession being gained.
It was from a lineout where McManus won the ball at the front of the lineout that set into action a handling move involving Rob Saunderson who initially took the ball forward and sweeping handling and passing between the centres Mark English and Ben Chappell enabled full back Tom Coad to be put into space and he finished the move off by scoring the opening try of the game.
Despite defending well Sevenoaks utilised the conditions well by good tactical kicking and turning Charlton Park.
It was as a result of over ambition by Charlton in trying to extend their lead they tried to run the ball out of defence that lead to Sevenoaks taking the lead when at the subsequent break down Sevenoaks turned over the ball and following a series of phases they scored their first try which was subsequently converted.
Having suffered a reversal in fortunes unenforced errors began to creep into Charlton’s play and an unplanned substitution to their forwards saw number eight Saunderson having to play tight head prop for the majority of the match and slightly effecting their attacking options. Charlton retook the lead, midway through the half with a penalty kicked by Coad and this settled their nerves and their play stabilised.
It was a moment of quick thinking that saw Charlton retake the lead when Sevenoaks did not play the referee’s whistle allowing scrum half Will Robertson take a quick throw in and the ball was moved at speed to Rabye who ran sixty metres bouncing off tackles to score Charlton’s second try of the half.
It was with the last kick of the first half that Sevenoaks that narrowed the point’s differential when they kicked a long range penalty to leave Charlton holding a three point lead at half time.
The second half was a case of “what may have been” as they went in search of further scoring opportunities to increase their lead and put the result of the game without doubt. From the onset of the half Charlton made their intentions known as they ran the ball back and utilised their forwards to good effect with Saunderson showing his versatility as he ensured a stable, with his fellow front row forwards a good attack platform for Charlton to lay siege to the Sevenoaks goal line for long periods.
Despite Charlton’s best efforts Sevenoaks defended well stopping Charlton from crossing their goal line and attacking on the break. With time running out the result of the game was always in doubt and it required at times last ditch defending including two very good turnovers by McManus and Harlow-Singh to thwart Sevenoaks from scoring.
The last few minutes of the game saw Sevenoaks encamped deep in the Charlton twenty two metre area as they pushed for a score to ensure a draw or snatch a win against the run of play. It was when Charlton had been reduced to fourteen men after, in defence, giving away a number of penalties that Sevenoaks changed their tactics and opted to take a kick at the goal posts, which as successful thereby ensuring a draw that ensures Charlton recent run of form continues and they occupy the top place in the league and consolidating Sevenoaks position in the top third of the league.
Next Saturday, 15th March, Charlton visit Tunbridge Wells who have been enjoying a mixed season but with the capability to cause upsets, to play a league fixture, postponed from February, kick off at 3.00 pm.
By Roe Belcher