Cents back to winning ways against Sharks

Ten-point margin of victory for Cents

RLC Southern Premiership

St Albans Centurions 32 West London Sharks 22

IT was back to winning ways for St Albans Centurions when they consolidated their second place in the Southern Premiership with a good win over fourth placed West London Sharks. The game could not have begun better for the Cents, for on their first set of six tackles three good drives by their ever reliable forwards got them in to the Sharks half, and the next play the ball saw scrum half Mike Wade pass the ball out to prop forward Roy Dube, who running at an angle broke through the West Londoners’ defensive line, and sprinted over to score. Full-back David Kramer converted the try.

The next 15 minutes belonged all to St Albans, as every pass, kick and play was performed without fault, and it was no surprise that play that good put pressure on the Londoners forcing them to give away three penalties from which St Albans scored all three. The first penalty saw Shane Rampling taking on the Sharks defence, and as they were drawn in, he put a long ball out to winger Oli Fountain who used his terrific burst of speed to go in at the corner for an unconverted try. After the second penalty, it was scrum-half Wade who got the ball and seemed to zig-zag through the Sharks defence to score under the posts where it was converted by Kramer. The third score was the try of the game when full-back Kramer got the ball on his own 10 metre line and burst upfield. He began a series of passing moves with prop forwards Dube and Mike Hollister, which broke up the West London scrambling defence, and after 90 metres Kramer got the ball back and crossed the line for the try.

If St Albans thought it was all over after 20 minutes then they were in for a rude surprise as Sharks ran it two tries to finish the half. First the Sharks kicked on the sixth tackle and the Centurions let the ball bounce, and bounce it did, right into the arms of Sharks’ Paul Towells who took the ball over the line to score a converted try.

Then, with less than a minute left of the first half, the Cents went to kick the ball down field and out of play, but the ball was caught by West London’s Sean Cookson who ran back into the Cents half, before being tackled. A quick play the ball allowed the ball to go out wide where Sharks’ Terrence Pung crossed near the corner flag to score. The first half ended with the Centurions leading 20-10.

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Unfortunately for St Albans the second half started as the first half finished as they gave away two penalties, one after the other, for offside. From the second of their kicks, Sharks were only a few metres from the Cents line and Craig Kugar went over to score in the corner, putting the visitors only four points behind. The next 20 minutes was good, end-to-end rugby as both teams jostled for dominance. On the hour mark St Albans centre Rudi van der Merwe was quickest to react when a Sharks player dropped the ball. He scooped it up and sprinted from inside his own half, through the West London defence to score near the sticks. Kramer converted the try.

With 10 minutes left the visitors were given a penalty for interference at a play the ball. They took a quick tap whilst Cents were getting lined up which saw their winger, Tom Duffy, cross the line for a try that he converted himself. St Albans seemed to take this as a wake up call and began to put sustained pressure on the Londoners. This pressure showed when a Sharks player knocked the ball forward, and from the resultant scrum, Cents’ forwards carried the ball up field to the Sharks’ 20 metre line. From the next play the ball with the majority of players lined up on the right side, Cents’ player/coach Shane Rampling switched the ball left, to where big second rower Adam Kambouris was charging forwards. He took the ball and crashed over the opposition’s line to score. Kramer just had time to take the conversion kick before the referee blew for time.

Player/coach Shane Rampling said after the game: “Talk about a game of three sections. For the first 20 minutes or so we were awesome, whatever we did paid off, the boys played some excellent rugby out there and we got some great tries. Then, both sides of half time we seemed to ease off a little and West London are a team that never gives up, so they started to come back at us. Fortunately the Centurions don’t know when to give up either, and we were definitely the better team again for the last 20 minutes or so.”

Next Saturday the second placed Centurions are again playing at their home ground at Toulmin Drive, against third place Eastern Rhinos from Colchester. Kick off is at 2.30pm

Cents: Kramer, Waters, van der Merwe, Westhead, Fountain, S Rampling, Wade, Dube, Stevens, Bell, Kay, Hollister, Blinkhorn, Kambouris, Woolley, D Rampling, Clelow, Day.