ST ALBANS Centurions came so close to winning their opening National Conference Rugby League match of the season, but went down 32-26 to South Wales Hornets.

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That old cliché ‘a game of two halves’ fitted St Albans Centurions first home game of the new term perfectly.

Cents visitors were South Wales Hornets, the feeder club for the semi pro South Wales Scorpions, and right from kick-off you could see the Hornets were up for this game.

Whilst the Cents looked disorganised and dropped off tackles, the Scorpions hit the ground running and within five minutes had the first points on the board.

Against the run of play, St Albans newest signing, Dan Townson became the first Cents player to score this season.

He side-stepped and jinked his way through open play from 30 yards out to score an unconverted try beneath the posts.

In a 10 minute period, the visitors ran in three more tries against a Centurions outfit that seemed unable to stop them.

With 10 minutes left, Centurions prop forward Kier Bell crashed his way over the Welsh line to score Cents second unconverted try.

Unfortunately, in the last seven minutes the Hornets scored two more tries, and the spectators were expecting a high scoring defeat as the first half ended with the Cents losing 32-8.

The second half kicked off and totally against the run of first half play, the Cents began to play good attacking rugby.

Hooker George Stevens was the first Centurion to score, burrowing over for another unconverted try.

From the kick-off the Cents pushed the Hornets all the way down field, and on the last play the ball, barnstorming prop forward Kier Bell made another charging run to crash through the Hornets and score his second try.

This time Lewis Dempsey took over the kicking duties and converted.

The next 10 minutes was all St Albans as they crossed the line for a disallowed try and kept the Welshmen pinned in their own half.

Unfortunately in two separate incidents five minutes apart, Cents prop Roy Dube and second row Martin Day had to leave the field, both bleeding badly from head wounds, neither to return.

A breakaway try against the run of play then saw the Hornets leading 36-18 with 20 minutes to go.

Now the Centurions really applied themselves, pressurising the visitors all the time.

Ben Kaye crashed in a converted try and four minutes later winger Rudi Van Der Merwe ran a try in from 30 yards out.

With only six points difference and South Wales reeling and hanging on, Centurions just could not get over the line, being held up on it and over it.

After the game Cents official Tony Bottomley said: “This really was a game of ‘ifs’. If only we played in the first half like we did in the second, or if only we kicked most of our conversions like the Hornets did, then we would have had a different result.

“It can be a very frustrating game sometimes. We are travelling to league favourites Underbank in Yorkshire next week, so we will have to be on our best from the start of that match, and not take like what seemed an eternity to settle down like in this one.”

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