Cents back to winning ways as duo depart club

WHAT a difference a week makes, as St Albans Centurions forgot all about their 54-0 loss to leaders Huddersfield Underbank Rangers to beat Nottingham Outlaws 46-20 on Saturday.

This week St Albans were able to field their strongest first team squad of the season, with the return of a number of players from work commitments and holidays.

Their opponents, the Nottingham Outlaws, were two places above them in the league going into this game.

The match would be tinged with a touch of sadness though, as it was player/coach Shane Rampling’s and six-year veteran Rudi Van Der Merwe’s last games for the club.

Cents got off to an excellent start when, from the kick-off, the St Albans forwards made two excellent drives and on the third the Outlaws gave away a penalty for offside.

From a quick tap and quick hands, the ball went down the line to centre Mike Benson who was unstoppable from 20 yards out.

The Outlaws came straight back and on their fifth tackle a kick through hit the upright and skewed off over the line for a Nottingham player to drop on it and score a converted try.

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Cents hit back almost at once as 16-year-old Ryan Shorter went over for a great try that full back Gareth Waters converted.

It seemed it was almost tit-for-tat as the Nottingham team scored again a few minutes later.

After 20 minutes, due to playing in 30 degree heat, the referee paused the action for a water break.

The game resumed and after a few minutes, Ryan Shorter sped in for another try which Waters again converted.

From the kick-off the Cents came straight back up the field and ran the ball on the sixth tackle, and sub Jack Baron who had just come on the field ran onto a flat ball and dived over to score.

Once again, straight from the kick-off the Cents drove the ball upfield thanks to a 40-metre run from Mike Benson.

Quick passes by Ryan Kambouris and Nick Woolley saw the ball go to prop Scott Clewlow who could not be stopped and crashed through the Outlaws’ defence to score a converted try.

Half-time saw the Centurions leading 26 points to 10.

The second period started badly for the St Albans boys with the Outlaws scoring after five minutes.

The pitchside temperature gauge was showing 32 degrees, and both teams were beginning to suffer from the heat.

However, the St Albans team handled the conditions better, and slowly gained the upper hand.

In the 68th minute Cents put pressure on the Outlaws’ line and winger Alessandro Ricci took another Rampling wide pass to score, Waters again converted.

From the kick-off St Albans collected and drove down the middle of the field, Cents captain Andy Lakes looping long pass sent winger Kieron O’Shea in at the corner.

Although the Outlaws managed one more try, as the game progressed St Albans began to dominate with both wingers Ricci and O’Shea both running in further tries.

After the game team manager Tony Bottomley said: “This is a fitting farewell to Shane Rampling and Rudi Van Der Merwe who are both retiring from the game.

“Shane is going home to Australia and Rudi going to Europe due to work commitments.

“This season has been really trying. With a full squad, I think we could beat most of the teams in this league. Unfortunately, playing in summer with players having other commitments, we can’t always get our full squad out. It can be very frustrating.”

Cents have next weekend off, and must wait until they play their last league game on September 1 at Bristol to see if they make a top six play-off position, but this could also rely on other teams and their scores.