A hat-trick from flying Reion Raybe helped secure a precarious away win for Charlton Park at Horsham on Saturday. Always the dominant team, Park could never shake off their hosts who nearly made them pay for careless errors in what promised to be their best performance of the season so far.

From a gentle start the game became a fierce competition between Charlton Park’s bigger and more powerful forwards and Horsham’s tenacity and ability to leap on any mistakes – and there were too many of them. The result was never secure and Park had to defend strongly in the last five minutes to keep their deserved advantage. When they carried the ball and then released it quickly across the backs to Raybe and Jeremy Montes Charlton looked a formidable team, but too often the old mistakes of a wild offload or a sloppy pass threatened to, and nearly did, undo all that had gone before.

It was from one of these aforesaid loose balls that the hosts took the lead within the first five minutes with a converted try under the posts. Charlton players had several attempts at killing the loose ball before Joe Wilde took advantage and fly-half Tom Johnson added the extras. Park should have been level soon after when Rob Saunderson scored after a scrum five drive, but fly-half Tibbs Dimofte’s inexplicably had his attempted conversion charged down. Both sides shared penalties before Raybe’s first try, scored after heavy Park pressure, seizing on a loose ball and wriggling through several half tackles. Dimofte’s conversion put them ahead but Horsham came back with a try from Jordan Bell and the extras gave them a two-point lead at half-time.

Charlton Park started the second half with a string of forward drives culminating in homme du match Gregory Heloir crashing over for his debut (geddit) try for the club. Alan Knuckey narrowly missed another in the corner after some clever passing with Jeremy Montes before Raybe scored his second after a lovely cut-out pass from Chad Reay but a penalty, opportunist try and conversion from Johnson, again resulting from a Charlton ‘offload’, brought the scores level.

Amid mounting excitement Raybe produced his trademark, scorching past defenders after fielding a misplaced kick, to finally seal the game and his personal hat-trick.

To any outsider this was probably a fine advertisement for the game, and both sides will probably look back at more good than bad. Charlton Park, with so many new faces, are beginning to put a coherent game together but lapses in concentration are still very costly. After the seconds 60-0 win over Bromley and the return of some injured there will certainly be pressure for places.

The club has a bye in the Intermediate Cup next week so the next game is a mouth-watering visit to our old mates down at Dartfordians in two weeks’ time.