Cents play-off push continues to gather momentum

RLC Southern Premiership Elmbridge Eagles 10 St Albans Centurions 48 ST ALBANS Centurions stayed on course for a play-off place with a thoroughly convincing victory over Elmbridge Eagles when they travelled to Esher. They remain third in the league, havin

RLC Southern Premiership

Elmbridge Eagles 10 St Albans Centurions 48

ST ALBANS Centurions stayed on course for a play-off place with a thoroughly convincing victory over Elmbridge Eagles when they travelled to Esher. They remain third in the league, having lost only two matches this season.

On a baking hot afternoon the Centurions were in control from the outset as hat-trick hero Adam Kal tested the Elmbridge defence with an incisive kick to the corner. It was chased up by the speedy right winger, Andy John, who very nearly scored in the opening moments. Further attacking forays from Chris True and Andy Lake showed that the Cents meant business and after 15 minutes a great burst and offload from Dave Roberson to the excellent Johnno Elvin set up the position for veteran prop Roy Dube to crash over by the posts. Andy John added the extra two points.


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Minutes later, after what was arguably the Centurions' best set of six this season, John added to his tally with an exceptional try in the corner. Cents gathered the ball from the kick off and played simple, basic rugby with five first rate play the balls as Elvin, Kuda Mupamhanga, Shane Rampling and Andy Lake made massive strides upfield before John touched down for his seventh try of the campaign.

Elmbridge, however, were not giving up without a fight and when St Albans missed a couple of tackles, Dawson raced in to score. The Eagles continued to threaten but St Albans' defence held firm and with ball in hand they were clearly the better team.

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It was simple, basic rugby that set up their next try as the ball was moved purposefully upfield and then, with almost his first touch of the ball, substitute David Leahy, making his first appearance for the club, made a scintillating break to send Kal over for a simple try. John converted from the touchline to make the score 14-6 to the Cents.

It wasn't long before the Cents added to the score, as first Rudi van der Merwe and then Brett Welsh moved the ball powerfully, setting up Roberson, who was hauled down inches short of the line. Elmbridge, however, could not stop Elvin who burrowed over for a try on the next tackle. John added the two points. The first half ended with the score at 22-4, after more storming runs from the Cents with Lewis Padmore showing notable ferocity.

After the break the Cents instantly showed that they had no intention of simply sitting on their lead. New boy Leahy, flying the flag for St Columbus College along with Fred Vassie and James Doran, scored a brilliant try out of nowhere as he broke a tackle to race half the field, outpacing the flailing home defence.

Moments later van der Merwe, made a length of the field break only to be tackled inches short. A try was inevitable though and quick hands saw the ball fed right for Brett Walsh to crash over. When the ever reliable John added the goal, the Centurions seemed to be home and dry.

Unfortunately, it was then that full back Chris True had a rush of blood to the head as he was sent off for stamping immediately in front of the referee. Surprisingly, even with 12 men, the Cents' defence did not wilt. Indeed, after good work from Rampling and Kal, they were able to add to their tally as Lake went over for a fine try, which John converted.

Minutes later a marvellous solo effort from Mupamhanga saw him waltz through an ineffectual tackle and power towards the line. Again he was hauled down just short but from the play the ball Kal touched down for a try in the left hand corner. Another fantastic touchline conversion from John made the score 44-4.

With 10 minutes left on the clock Elmbridge managed a consolation try.

Still the Cents attacked and, to cap it all, scrum half Adam Kal fed the scrum in his own half, gathered the ball and sped through to touch down unopposed and complete his hat trick.

Player/coach, Shane Rampling, who was carried off with a leg injury five minutes from time, said: "It was a fantastic effort today. We moved up another gear. Everyone played well and I was really pleased with the debutants. Next week, we've got a week off and then we're away to South London. That will be a tough one but we'll be ready."

Team: True, John, van der Merwe, Welsh, Petty, Rampling, Kal, Dube, Elvin, Roberson, Dempsey, Mupamhanga, Lake, Padmore, Vassie, Allan, Doran, Leahy.

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