Absentees cost Cents dear against Stags

Manager laments another poor showing from St Albans

Conference League

St Albans Centurions 0 Hemel Hempstead Stags 54

RUGBY LEAGUE: ST ALBANS Centurions manager Tony Bottomly struggled to hide his frustration after his side were blown away by table-topper Hemel Stags on Saturday.

The team have struggled badly this season posting several one-sided defeats, but Bottomly said his depleted squad was simply no match for their near rivals at the weekend. “We have no excuses,” said Bottomley. “We had seven first team players unavailable due to work, injury and holidays, and the team we put out just could not match a well-drilled Hemel side that cut our defence to ribbons.

“But as I said, no excuses, they can only play the team we put on the pitch, and we just didn’t have our game heads on today. What is annoying is that almost all Hemel’s tries came off Centurions giving away penalties for high tackles and interference at the play the ball. We have to learn from this defeat.”

Hemel were on the score board after six minutes, when they went blind from a scrum and quick hands saw the Stags backs run through the Centurions defence. From the kick-off Cents lost the ball and then gave away a penalty for a high tackle and once again the Hemel back row went over in the corner.

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St Albans suffered a setback after 15 minutes when their inspirational captain and leader on the field Andy Lake suffered a severe migraine attack after a high tackle and had to leave the field and did not return.

All through the first half it continued to be the same story. St Albans giving away silly penalties and the Stags gaining ground and scoring on the back of them. The half ended with visitors scoring five tries and leading 30 points to nil.

The second half started just as badly for the St Albans team, when they received the ball and almost immediately threw a forward pass, and from the resultant scrum Hemel went in for another try, followed by a second three minutes later.

As if things could not get any worse, the Centurions lost their prop forward Mike Hollister when he was red carded for violent conduct. Hemel did not have it all their own way, there were periods when St Albans played good rugby and pushed Hemel back, and they did have numerous attempts to score, but every time they were near the Stags try line, they were kept out by Hemels very strong defensive line.

A very tied St Albans outfit allowed the visitors to run in another three tries in the last 10 minutes of the game.

It does not get any easier next week either, as St Albans face another semi-pro side when they play second place Warrington Wizards at their Toulmin Drive ground. Kick-off is at 2.30pm.