Cents denied by Knights

Rugby League National Conference

Kippax Knights 34 St Albans Centurions 30

ST ALBANS Centurions were denied a third straight win on Saturday when they suffered a narrow defeat to Kippax Knights in Yorkshire.

Despite his team’s form coming to an end, manager Tony Bottomley says he was proud of the effort his players put in. “We got a bonus point today, but it could easily have been three,” he said.

“This is the problem with playing a fully amateur team in an open (semi-pro) league. It’s summer and players have holiday, family and work commitments. This last couple of weeks has been a credit to the lads who have played. They have put their heart into the games and have been a credit to the club.

“Another man of the match performance by Joe Shaw again today for the second week running, he was outstanding. And what a day for our 16-year-old Ryan Shorter, running in two tries after having two tries disallowed last week in Wales.

“The bonus point and other results keeps us in sixth place in the league and in a play of position. This is great for the club, we have proved we can stand up and be counted in the National League.”

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The Cents travelling squad was reduced to only 15 players, not the usual 17, due to work and holiday commitments. The game did not get off to a good start, from the kick off Cents full-back Gareth Waters was returning the ball when he was tackled by two players. The ball was ripped out and the referee waved play on and the Knights player ran the ball in for a converted try.

On the 15-minute mark, following a scrum for a knock-on, Cents powerhouse forward Scott Clewlow received the ball and could not be stopped as he drove his way over the line to score. Full back Waters converted.

It was then the home team’s turn to score after Cents were penalised for offside. Shortly after, Centurions pressurised the Knights who kicked the ball out on the full on the fifth tackle. Quick thinking scrum-half Ryan Kambouris took a quick tap penalty on his own 20-metre line and centre Rudi Van Der Merwe raced 70 metres downfield to score a converted try.

With only minutes to go, St Albans gave away a penalty, and a couple of missed tackles allowed Kippax to score under the posts. The half time score was 16-12 to Kippax.

At the start of the second half, the Cents did what they have done all season, which drives their coach to frustration. They took too long to settle down, and this allowed Kippax to run in two converted tries in the first five minutes.

The Centurions then slowly settled down to their game plan. Firstly, Shane Rampling put in a kick to the corner that a Knights player fumbled, allowing Shorter to dive on it. From his quick play the ball second-row powerhouse Mike Hollister could not be stopped as he crashed through the defensive line to score a converted try.

Centurions’ 16-year-old star of the future then scored two tries of his own. First, a long wide ball from Rampling saw Shorter scoot in at the far corner, followed 10 minutes later when the same move, this time supplied by Cents captain Andy Lake saw Shorter speed in for his second.

Unfortunately this try started a brawl that saw a Kippax player sent off and Cents forward Roy Dube sin-binned for 10 minutes. The resultant penalty was given against St Albans and from it, the Yorkshiremen managed to get their last converted try of the game.

The score was 34-26 against the Cents with 10 minutes left. The last spell was almost all St Albans as time and again they crashed into the Knights defensive line.

Cents player Alessandra Ricci, playing his first ever competitive game of rugby league received the ball from a great passing sequence down the line and ran in at the corner to make the score 34-30. However they were unable to score again and they had to settle for a defeat.

After the game Cents captain Andy Lake said: “This is a game we could have won. Our last three tries were scored out wide, in the corners, making it very hard to convert them. We had young lads and first timers in our team today, and they played their hearts out. I’m very proud of them.”