Five tries in twenty minutes at the end of the first half ended the All Golds’ hopes of an opening win in their first game in the newly structured Southern Conference League.
The first quarter had been tough and competitive with big hits freely exchanged and a converted try apiece on the scoreboard.
Then the All Golds conceded an unnecessary penalty in possession and the Chargers took full advantage to score and add four further tries as the half ended with the All Golds pretty much out of sight at 34-6 down.
The second half was more of an even contest, but the Chargers’ defence was almost impossible to break through and the All Golds could only muster a late try as reward for their efforts.
However, with several regulars missing, the All Golds have something to build on for the challenges ahead, starting on 6 May with the trip to North Herts Crusaders, the side the All Golds defeated to win the Harry Jepson Trophy in 2018.
An All Golds side missing a number of regulars travelled to the capital to face a London Chargers team that has been consistently challenging for the Southern Conference League title.
However, five tries in twenty minutes at the end of the first half ended their hopes of an opening win in their first game in the newly structured SCL.
They found the home side’s defence in top form. Their tackles stuck and their organisation meant that opportunities were few and far between despite the promptings of halfbacks Greg Hamilton and Owen Priest.
The turning point in an even first half came midway through the first 40 minutes. The scores were level at 6-6, Ed Tait’s close range try cancelling out a dummy half sneak from Eric Sims in the opening minutes, when the referee penalised some push and shove from the All Golds at the play-the-ball and Louis Godfrey touched down a neat grubber kick to the corner from the resulting set of six.
Four minutes later, Sims stretched over again from close range to extend the lead and the Chargers could have had another shortly afterwards, but the referee saw an infringement off the ball and disallowed George Denham’s touchdown.
The All Golds were only spared for three minutes as Nathan O’Connor’s break was finished by Godfrey running a good line through the defence.
Before the half finished, Adam Simm crossed from a neat inside ball and James Jones scored on the last play of the half. With Lee McCarthy adding four goals and Michael Chivers one, the Chargers were looking comfortable with a 34-6 lead as the teams changed ends.
Both sides defended resolutely in the opening minutes of the second period until finally the All Golds’ goal-line defence broke and Richard Williams scored on the sixth tackle.
However, the All Golds dug deep and, for the rest of the game, matched their opponents set for set. They gave as good as they got but just couldn’t find a way over the line. Tait was held up and twice good kick chases forced goal-line drop-outs and an extra set of tackles.
It was the Chargers who scored next, Denham collecting his second try on the hour mark, though there was a suspiciously forward pass in the build-up to the score.
With six minutes left, the All Golds got the final score of the game. Tait did well to steal the ball in a one-on-one tackle and the attack finished with Rohan Chatterjee scoring in the corner.
The game ended on a bizarre note with the All Golds receiving a penalty on the last play of the game and opting to kick for goal. Darrion Ball’s kick rebounded from a post and, after a mad scramble, the Chargers regathered possession to end the contest.
The All Golds now have a fortnight to prepare for their next fixture on Coronation Day, 6 May, against North Herts Crusaders, the side they defeated to win the Harry Jepson Trophy in 2018.
Chargers: Nathan O’Connor; Harry Normington, Louis Godfrey, George Denham, George Geddes; Isaac Greene, Adam Simm; Charlie Whitington, Eric Sims, Jeremy Dobson; Lee McCarthy, Michael Chivers; David O’Connor (Capt.); INTERCHANGE: James Jones, Calum Linton, Richard Williams, Will Fairhurst.
Tries: Sims (2, 22), Godfrey (18, 29), Sim (32), Jones (39), Williams (48), Denham (61)
Goals: McCarthy 5 from 6, Chivers 1 from 1, Denham 0 from 1.
ALL GOLDS: Darrion Ball; Adam Turner, Joe Uren, Nathan Tucker, Henry Symons; Greg Hamilton, Owen Priest; Ed Tait, Jack Uren, Kieran Harvey; Billy Hooper, Brandon Lamb (Capt; Mike Harrison; INTERCHANGE: Ross Rochelle, Morgan Lewis, Rohan Chatterjee, Luke Bowyer.
Tries: Tait (8), Chatterjee (74)
Goals: Ball 1 from 2, Priest 0 from 1.
All Golds player of the Match: Ed Tait scored a strong try, was held up over the line once and pulled off a vital ball steal when the Chargers looked dangero