Bears downed by Cents at the Colosseum
- Credit: Archant
St Albans Centurions needed extra-time to see of Beckenham Bears in the first round of the London Cup at Toulmin Drive.
A replay of the Raging Bull Trophy that Cents won easily, Saturday’s game was a close affair with St Albans narrowly coming out on top, 38-34.
After the game assistant coach Andy Lake said: “That was probably the closest game we have ever played. We knew it wouldn’t be easy as Beckenham are a big team, so we had to rely on speed to try and tire their big forwards out.
“Apart from the injuries, I don’t think this game slowed down or had any real breaks. It must have been a great game to watch for the spectators, but I don’t want to go through another 90 minutes like that for quite a while.”
Cents were missing five first teamers from their line up, but were giving a debut game to new signing Andy Hogg.
Within the first few minutes of kick-off, it was obvious Cents were unsettled as Beckenham broke through the line to score before pushing St Albans back to touch down again. On the 20th minute they scored again to put Cents in an 18-0 hole.
Ryan Shorter led the way back for Centurions as he roared down the wing to score a try, which Nick Woolley converted. Hogg then announced his arrival with a tackle-bursting run and score.
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Bears had the last laugh of the half, though, as poor tackling allowed their winger to dive over the whitewash and give his side a 22-12 lead.
The second half started at a furious pace as both teams used their forwards to smash into the other side causing several injuries but no tries.
After 20 minutes of non-stop action, Hogg shrugged off two tackles to score his second of the game. Woolley added the extras before dotting down a try of his own, which he converted, but he was off target with his kick after Russ Kellaway out-sprinted two defenders to score.
Another converted try from Beckenham brought the teams level at 28-all with 10 minutes to go.
Both sides had chances to win it but the defences held firm, as Shorter and Matt Stringer were held up over the line and Bears also had several chances disallowed.
With the help of sloppy penalties, Bears used their forwards to smash over the line to take a slender lead in the dying stages but Matt Skinner released Roy Dube to take the game to extra-time.
There was some epic defensive play from both sides, as neither side wanted to let the other gain ground. Then, St Albans gave away a penalty in a tackle, giving Bears the chance to kick a penalty and win the game. To Cents delight the kick sailed wide.
With a fresh impetus Cents attacked the Bears and a swift passing move involving Miles Dempsey and Ashley Whitehead set up Mike Hollister to burst through the defensive line to win the game/
Cents regular season starts in ernest on Saturday when they take on Staines Titans at the Colosseum, kick-off 2.30pm