Saints keep pressure on at the top

PUBLISHED: 10:54 26 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:57 06 May 2010

London North West Three Finchley 14 St Albans 22 ST ALBANS kept the pressure on the front runners in the league with a comfortable victory over a Finchley side desperate for points in their battle against relegation. In a sublime first half performance S

London North West Three

Finchley 14 St Albans 22

ST ALBANS kept the pressure on the front runners in the league with a comfortable victory over a Finchley side desperate for points in their battle against relegation.

In a sublime first half performance Saints built up a 17 point lead, and would have posted more points except for some desperate defence and some sloppy handling. However, having built up the lead St Albans relaxed and failed to really hammer home their obvious superiority.

From the start of the first half St Albans controlled the play. The forwards had the edge in the set pieces and from good possession the backs went through their training ground routines. Inside the first 20 minutes they had built up a 14 point lead. First, winger Ed Coy popped up on the opposite wing to finish off a sweeping move that had started in their own half. Then the other winger James Dickinson, not to be undone, finished off another good move to score in the same corner. Mark Kentish converted both from the touchline.

St Albans continued to dominate and split the Finchley defence on a regular basis. However they failed to score another first half try due to a series of over-ambitious passes or last gasp tackles. In the last minute of the first half Saints added to their score with a Mark Kentish penalty.

Ten minutes into the second half the visitors extended their lead. From a line out 15 metres from the Finchley line St Albans stole the Finchley throw and drove the play forward. The home side tried to collapse the drive but they failed and the maul went over the try line. Craig Huddleston, who improves with every game, was last up with the ball. For once Kentish failed with the conversion.

After this score Finchley tried to raise their game. They are in desperate need of points and they set about trying to get themselves back into the match. Unfortunately, their attempts often involved over robust tactics including some rather high and dangerous tackles. St Albans allowed these tactics to distract them and often got involved in scuffles and off the ball incidents leading to six yellow cards, three for each side.

Midway through the second half Finchley got themselves on the scoreboard with a harsh penalty try. A St Albans attack broke down and the Finchley winger kicked the ball clear.

Although Saints winger James Dickinson was a clear favourite to reach the loose ball the chasing Finchley player collided with hooker Brenton Lemiere just outside the 22 and a penalty try was awarded, with Lemiere confined to the sin bin for 10 minutes. The simple conversion was added. The game lost its shape after this and Finchley added a further consolation score in the dying minutes to bring the final score to 22-14.

St Albans coaches must have been pleased with the first half performance, but equally worried with the second half. There were some good performances as Brent Green took the Man of the Match award.

Sunday's Herts Cup game against Harpenden was cancelled as Harpenden gave St Albans a walk over. Next week St Albans entertain Hammersmith and Fulham at home on Saturday and then on Sunday The Old Albanians are the visitors in the County Cup semi-final.

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