Cents back on the winning trail

Cents triumph on the banks of the Thames

RLC Conference

West London 18 St Albans Centurions 34

RUGBY League on the banks of the River Thames, on a pitch between two rowing clubs was the unusual setting for the St Albans Centurions when they travelled to Chiswick in West London to play the West London Sharks on Saturday.

After their first defeat of the season last week, Cents now sitting in third place were looking for a victory against fourth place Sharks to keep in contention at the top of the table.

It looked like it could have been a repeat of last weeks defeat when after five minutes, Sharks centre John McLean intercepted a pass, broke the Cents line and a quick pass out wide allowed winger Damian Lewis to score out wide. It was almost a case of deja vu when in the next set of six, another Cents long pass was again intercepted by a West London player but the Cents thwarted the attack yards from their line.

The Sharks knocked the ball forward on their next set of possession and the resulting scrum the impressive St Albans forwards drove the ball up field onto the Sharks 30 metre line.

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A quick play the ball found Oli Fountain at acting half-back. He used his speed and neat footwork to dance around several defenders before scoring under the posts and converting his own try.

There then followed a period when the West London outfit put continued pressure on St Albans.

J. P. Burns scored out wide after some poor Cents tackling, and, after giving away two penalties on the trot the Sharks were given another chance to score, which they took, when Miller finally broke the Saints line and scored a try, which was converted.

Sharks were leading 14 points to 6 when the St Albans team began to play good rugby, and scored two tries in the final 10 minutes of the half. The first try was scored when prop forward Dylan Rampling took the ball 10 yards out and went over the try line taking four defenders with him. This kick was converted by Fountain.

Five minutes later, another Cents forward, Joe Shaw came off the bench and made an immediate impact by breaking the West London defensive line and crashed over for an unconverted try in the corner to make the score 16-14 at half time in Cents’ favour.

It looked a totally different St Albans team that took the pitch in the second half. A very strong contingent of forwards were rotated from the Centurions’ bench and this caused continuous pressure on the Sharks defence.

Props Andy Lake and David Blinkhorn were both held up on the line, and within 10 minutes of the start Shaw scored his second and best try of the game when he broke several tackles and dived over the line to score from six feet out. Fountain converted the try.

The Cents appeared to be well in control of the game when the Sharks prop forward Clarke was sent off for dissent. This probably put any chance of a fight back out of West London’s reach as the Cents were in the ascendancy and this showed when winger Jimmy Moffitt side stepped his way through the defence to score a try and 10 minutes later scrum-half Mike Wade jinked through the West London team to score under the posts. Both of these tries were converted by Fountain.

In the final minute of the game the Centurions gave away two silly penalties that allowed the Sharks to march up the field and after consistent pressure the West London team got a consolation try in the corner. This win now puts the Cents in second position in the league.

Coach Shane Rampling said: “It was a shaky start, but we slowly got in to our stride, and after about 20 minutes I knew we would win this game. We have a few more players back this week and you can see we are getting stronger and better the more games we play.”

Cents have no game next week, but travel to Colchester on Saturday, June 4, to play Eastern Rhinos, a game coach Rampling says they must win to keep the pressure on top team Hammersmith.

Cents: Kramer, Westhead, Stringer, Woolley, Moffitt, Fountain, Wade, Dube, S. Rampling, Blinkhorn, Lake, Kay, Dempsey, D. Rampling, Norris, Drummond, Day, Hollister, Van Der Merwe, Shaw.