Cents’ defence begins with victory

Last gasp Kramer try gives Cents a winning start

South London Storm 26 St Albans Centurions 32

The St Albans Centurions opened the 2011 Rugby League Conference season and their defence of the Harry Jepson Trophy with a trip to South London Storm and a dramatic last minute victory.

South London now play on a G3 artificial pitch, and the game started with both sides making basic mistakes as they got used to the give and bounce of the pitch.

St Albans were fielding a mixed side made up of last years players and players new to the club. There was also a family feel about the squad with three brothers, Miles, Ross and Lewis Dempsey all playing for Cents.

After 18 minutes the Storm defence was broken when Miles Dempsey proved unstoppable and went over in the corner for an unconverted try. The South London team soon got their game plan together and scored two quick tries in four minutes when they caught the Centurions defence falling off tackles.

On the half hour Centurions brought the scores level at 10 all when captain Andy Lake literally trampled three South London defenders underfoot as he crashed over the try line and scored. David Kramer converted. On the half time whistle Cents drove out from their own 20 metre line with some good forward rushes and quick hands, getting the ball to scrum half Mike Wade, who then kicked over the South London defence and found speed merchant Ollie Fountain chasing and collecting the ball. Fountain scored and this was converted by David Kramer to give the Centurions a 16-10 lead at half time.

Most Read

The second half started like the first, with both teams making basic errors on the plastic pitch. It took 15 minutes into the second half for South London to get the first score, when the Centurions defence once again fell off their tackles and the home team went over under the posts, which was converted to bring the score levels at 16 all.

Cents seemed unable to settle down and in the next 10 minutes the St Albans defence was poor and South London scored another two quick tries, converting one of them, to open up a 26-16 point lead.

The game then went into a back and forth period, with both teams unable to gain the upper hand. With 10 minutes left you could see the South London side begin to tire, due to the Cents forwards continually crashing into them, and then the St Albans boys upped their attack. Trapping the Storm in their own in goal area, Wade collected a drop out from under the posts at full speed and ran in to score from 30 metres. The score was converted by David Kramer to make it 26-22.

Then it was Fountain’s turn to score his second try, after some good forward play had set him up. Fountain decided to run it on the fifth tackle, and this caught the defence cold allowing him to go over in the corner for an unconverted try, evening the score at 26 points each.

With a minute left on the clock, South London kicked long and deep into the Centurions’ 10 metre area, hoping to pin them down, but from a quick play the ball, Kramer collected the ball at acting half and ran the length of the field, outpacing several Storm players, to score under the posts. He then converted his own try, giving the Centurions a 32-26 win.

Player/coach Shane Rampling said: “There is a lot of pressure on the boys, as we are the current League, Southern Premiership and National Champions. We are the club that other teams will be measuring themselves against and want to beat. Today’s game was played on an artificial surface, and it’s fair to say it took us a little while to settle down. This squad of 17 players had eight of last year’s first teamers and a number of young men stepping up to the next level. In the next few weeks we will have more experienced players returning to the squad, and together with the players we saw here today, will give us a squad of players that will do very well this season.”

Next Saturday the Centurions open their home league fixtures against Hainault Bulldogs at their new Toulmin Drive ground. Kick off is at 2.30pm.

Cents: Kramer, Petty, Woolley, Kelloway, van der Merwe, Norris, Wade, Dube, Rampling, Lake, Drummond, R. Dempsey, M. Dempsey, L. Dempsey, Myers, Fountain, Moffitt.