Hove arrived at The Rec low on confidence, after a poor game away last week to Deal and Betteshanger but were determined to change their fortunes around. Hove had a number of changes from last week: Danny O’Connor made his debut at 9, Harry Nelson was back in the side after recovering from a head knock, Charlie Watts had decided he would grace us with his presence for a week, Dr Rupert Phillips BM MBBS MBChB slotted in at 8 and Charlie Knight had returned from sunning himself to make the bench, his skin tone had graduated from a pure Chantilly lace white, to a pale Dover white.
Hove started by failing to cleanly catch the Charlton Park kick off, and Charlton park immediately tried to turn the screw with their big runners hitting it up, but Hove’s defence looked resolute today, and kept them at bay. However, Hove gave away a penalty, which was missed by Charlton Park.
From the 22 drop out, Hove gained decent territory, and earned themselves a line out in CP’s half. After last week’s horror show at the set piece Hove went back to basics, and quick, clean ball ended up with a sweet meat pie for Alex Parker out wide, after strong running from Dr Rupert Phillips BM MBBS MBChB.
In the next five minutes Ian Saunders gained two massive turnovers in the midfield, it has been noted recently that Ian’s looks have improved recently, and some say he is even as good looking as the ever-dashing Sam Whiting. Credit must be given to Christopher Knott for his turnover assists this game, it is something he has been working very hard on in training, and great to see the extra work paying off. The ensuing penalty, from Ian/Chris’s turn over resulted in a kick deep into Charlton parks territory, which resulted in a scrum to hove on Charlton Park’s 5m line.
Hove went backwards in the scrum, but Doc Rupert majestically picked up from the base, stepped Park’s 9, and crashed over the line. The outrageously handsome Sam Whiting stepped up and dragged it just wide. 12-0 Hove, who were making full use of the strong tail wind.
Hove line speed was great throughout, resulting in numerous dominant hits from the Hove pack. Hove then had some big carries of their own in midfield, namely by the Joe Burrowes, whose star power and celebrity gravitas had initially stunned the Charlton Park back line. Joe was looking at home at the Rec, a far cry from the lavish lifestyle we all know he leads. Harry Nelson, looking like a young Guy Patton with his snake hips, slithered through a gap in the Charlton park defence, and under the posts. Whiting added the extras, 19-0 to Hove.
Charlton Park regathered the resulting kick off, and after some quick ball, identified some space around the Hove ruck, and got a try back for themselves, Rob Ward was sent to the sin bin for what was deemed a deliberate knock on. Half time 19-7 to Hove, could they kick on in the second half going back into that strong tail wind?
After a solid restart from Dugard, CPRFC stole Hove lineout for the first and last time on the halfway line, the next play ended up with Charlton Park scrum out wide on the Hove 22. Charlton Park scored off this, 19-14. Danny O’Connor, who had had a great 1st team debut was replaced by the glowing Charlie Knight at scrum half.
Another lovely break out wide from Harry Nelson, drew a tackler before Alex Parker went over in the corner. Alex then stepped up to kick the conversion, and like a young Dan Carter slotted it straight through the middle from the touchline 26-14 to Hove.
Rob Ward returned to the pitch after his extended half time break, and the extra man immediately paid dividends, as Parker slipped through for his hattrick. Editorial Note: this writer is yet to see him buy a jug for his hattrick. Parker’s resulting conversion saw him more resembling Andy Goode, and missed, 31-14 to Hove. With 20 minutes to go, Hove had scored their last points of the day. The cowboy Tyler Ray trotted on to the field to replace Ryan Storer, and Toby Brown replaced Watts, who had sustained a shoulder knock.
A period of Charlton Park dominance now followed, and two tries from them brought the scores to 31-28, and it looked like Charlton Park could be ready to pull off a big comeback victory. However, some great defence out wide from Lloyd Tullett kept Park at bay, Lloyd sustained a hand injury for his troubles, and Hove had to reshuffle for the last 5 minutes.
With a couple of seconds left on the clock Hove won a penalty and ran the clock down to zero. Charlie Knight, at the base of the ruck, literally had one job, to kick it out and secure the victory, but a rush of blood to the head, possibly caused by flashbacks to that time that DJ dropped ‘that track’ at that club in Ibiza, caused him to deliberately pass it straight out to touch…penalty to Charlton Park.
The Hove defence stepped up again, and the Park back line was adjudged to have crossed, Hove had the penalty. Dugard ripped the ball from a still dazed Charlie Knights hands, and kicked it into touch, Hove win 31-28.
A much-improved performance by Hove, whose set piece set a great platform for the backs to work off. Credit to Charlton park for their strong comeback but they fell just short. Special mentions to debutant Danny O’Connor, Dr Rupert Phillips BM MBBS MBChB, and Alex Parker, great performances.
MOTM: Harry Nelson, he really is quite good.
DOTD: Charlie Knight, enough said.