Gallery: Saints record morale-boosting win
London Division 2 NW St Albans 36 Finchley 12 ST ALBANS duly returned to winning ways at a very windy Boggymead Spring. This was a fixture that the Saints management had targeted as a must win game and after last week s lacklustre display in West London,
London Division 2 NW
St Albans 36 Finchley 12
ST ALBANS duly returned to winning ways at a very windy Boggymead Spring.
This was a fixture that the Saints management had targeted as a must win game and after last week's lacklustre display in West London, it was clear from the off that the home side had a renewed intensity about them.
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St Albans won the toss and perhaps surprisingly chose to play against the elements.
The conditions were foul, with a driving wind and torrential rain blowing straight into the home side's faces.
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There was however a method to the madness. Saints had clearly spent time on the training pitch during the week working on their first-up tackling.
All day, the Finchley tactic seemed to be to try to run through the Saints defence, as opposed to find ways around it. This played into the home side's hands as Saints ran out winners with a 6-0 try count.
Finchley were first to open the scoring with a simple penalty, but 15 minutes later Saints were 17-3 to the good. Firstly, from a series of pick and go's, play became stagnated around the visitor's 22.
It looked to all that the ball would now be spun wide, but Doug Morete, back in the scrum half jersey, spotted that the visitor's had committed all their backs defence out wide. With a little show to interest his opposite number, he then stepped inside and headed for the line. Although with the ground now quite heavy underfoot, the 22 metres must have seemed like 50. Kentish duly converted.
In Saints' next attack, quality interplay between backs and forwards resulted in the ball ending up in left wing Phil Tsangari's hands and his turn of pace saw him race past the covering full back to score.
A further sustained period of pressure on the visitor's line was rewarded when Morete sniped over from five metres.
However two well struck long range penalties brought Finchley back into the game. Saints regrouped and once again launched a series of assaults on the visitor's line. Despite the conditions, Saints were playing some of their best rugby, managing to retain possession and vary the passages of play to keep the opposition guessing.
Quality ball from the dominant Saints pack again set up their backline.
Charlie Howard, returning at stand-off, after a long-term injury, fed centre Jack Stevenson, who ghosted through to score under the posts. The successful conversion gave Saints a 15 point cushion and despite conceding a fourth penalty late on, Saints were more than happy to turn round with a 24-12 lead.
As it turned out, although St Albans continued to dominate they weren't quite so clinical after the break.
They still tried to play with ball in hand, but the conditions seemed to be taking their toll and the greasy ball was spilled in contact more readily as the game wore on.
In the final quarter, Saints scored the two tries that gave the scoreline a more realistic look.
Fittingly these were scored by their two props, who together with hooker Dave Callan, had helped to enable Saints to control the tight phases of the game.
Once again patient interplay between backs and forwards saw the ball find tighthead Brenton Lemiere close to the touchline but still 30 metres out. He bullocked through the immediate cover before showing a clean pair of heels to the Finchley full back and sprinting in to touchdown in the corner to cap a fine personal display.
The final try was a classic forward's drive. From a catch just outside the visitors 22, Saints' relentless march to the line was halted just two metres out by foul play.
However, a good advantage was played by the referee enabling loosehead Dave O'Leary to score his first try for the club. This was well converted by Stevenson.
Overall, St Albans will be very satisfied with this result and will look to continue their fine home form this weekend when they host Tonbridge Juddian in the Third Round of the Intermediate Cup.
St Albans: Kentish, Coy, Dickinson, Stevenson, Howard, Morete, Lemiere, Callan, O'Leary, Hillier, Sayers, Styles, Bickle, Joubert. Reps: M Huddleston, C Huddleston, Cutts.