Playing against a highly motivated Warlingham side whose play did not reflect their league postiton it was a penalty from Thor Normann deep into injury time that finally secured Charlton Park a hard fought win and in doing so secured their league championship for the season.
The match started at a high tempo with both sides having different reasons for trying to gain the advantage and it was following good play at the back of a line out by Rob Saunderson that lead to Charlton having their first opportunity to opening the scoring but the resultant kick was caught on a capricious wind and drifted wide of the goalposts.
With Charlton’s lineout working well causing problems for Warlingham who were unable to gain any real momentum and in this connection they were not aided when they suffered a front injury that was to have a significant effect on play in the second half. It was Warlingham’s play at the break down that was causing Charlton problems they competed well turning the ball over on a number of occasions thereby relieving the pressure.
Charlton’s pressure finally bore same tangible effect when a hasty clearance kick from Warlingham did not find touch and instead the ball was collected by Neil Collins whose direct running took him through several tackles and he managed to muscle his way over the goal line to score the first try of the game.
Warlingham’s response was immediate as they finally started to put phases of play together and a period of direct play saw them establish a territorial advantage in the Charlton twenty two metre area and thereby began to apply continual pressure to the Charlton goal line. Despite solid fifteen man defence Charlton began to be adjudged to have given away a series of penalties and finally following a scrum a back row move saw Warlingham level the scores with a try.
With the game evenly balanced Charlton had an opportunity to extend the lead but they missed a penalty when the ball hit the goal posts. With both sides continuing to press to gain an advantage the game fell into a trough with the match, for the last fifteen minutes of the half, predominantly being played in the middle third of the pitch.
Requiring at least a point to stay in the league Warlingham started the better of the two sides in the second half and they had the majority of both territory and possession although Charlton’s scrum, despite suffering slight problems in the first half, began to gain a slight upper hand allowing Charlton to work their way out of their half although this advantage was negated when Warlingham suffered an injury to a second front row player and scrums were then from then on a uncontested basis.
Having absorbed the initial Warlingham pressure Charlton had a period of play that saw Saunderson and Alan Knuckey, making his first start for the first team since August having suffered a serious injury, make telling breaks and but unfortunately Charlton were not able to capitalise on these breaks. It was following good play at a break down that saw Warlingham retake the lead when following the award of a penalty they made a successful kick to give them a narrow lead.
It was a moment of quick thinking that saw Charlton score their second try when following the award of a penalty Saunderson took a quick tap and his drive over the try line and with Knuckey adding the conversion the lead changed hands for the third time in Charlton’s favour.
Warlingham sensing that they could despite the injuries win the match used the wind and their knowledge of their home pitch to keep Charlton penned in deep in their twenty two metre area close to the try line. Unable to clear the ball far due to the wind Charlton were forced into having to defend for periods of time. It was following a melee in the corner Warlingham scored their second try of the match when they broke through the centre of the players to touch the ball down.
With only a short period of regular time left and holding what could have been a season saving lead Warlingham started to try and run the clock down by ensuring that Charlton were kept deep in their half. Deep into injury time Charlton decided to throw caution to the wind and started to show an admirable sense of adventure by trying to run the ball back with wing Reion Rabye making a sixty metre dash that caused worries for Warlingham
It was a combination of Mark Harlow-Singh and Tom Coad direct running with ball in hand that saw them making a large gain of territory that took Charlton deep into the Warlingham half and following several phases of play Warlingham were adjudged to have offended by trying to defend and gave away a penalty away in front of the goal posts. Charlton having missed two penalties previously did not waste the opportunity this time with Normann kicking the points to enable Charlton to steal the match away from Warlingham.
Charlton next week on April 12th play their final league match of the season when they host Medway at Broadwalk, in front of what is expected to be a large crowd who also see Charlton being presented with the League winner’s trophy.