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RLC Premiership Grand Final – Harry Jepson Trophy

Rugby League Conference Premiership Grand Final – Harry Jepson Trophy

St Albans Centurions 56 Coventry Bears 4

RAMPANT St Albans Centurions Centurions repeated their 2007 Grand Final win over Coventry Bears in emphatic style, scoring 11 tries in a superb performance.

They combined crunching defence with brilliantly sharp attacking play that had the Bears chasing shadows for much of the game.

A promising opening by Coventry was capped by a try that came after they lost their way with a last tackle option.

The ball went to Sam Viggars who chipped over his man and re-gathered to score; Iestyn Pratt could not convert but things looked good for the Midlands champions.

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However the Centurions immediately upped their game and began to explore space on the Bears’ flanks.

They took control of the game midway through the first half with three tries in eight explosive minutes of fast attacking rugby.

After one wide pass was nearly intercepted, the trick worked for St Albans after 18 minutes, the deflected ball falling to Aaron Brown who cut back to the posts giving David Kramer an easy conversion.

Four minutes later, the ball went wide to the opposite wing and winger Ollie Fountain scored easily.

The Centurions’ third try owed much to a comedy of errors in the Bears defence with the ball being deflected in all directions before Matt O’Rourke made sense of the chaos and crossed for an easy score.

Just before the interval, the Centurions opened up a 16-point lead as player/coach Shane Rampling finished another swift passing move to score, Kramer adding the goal.

The Bears started the second half well but the Centurions found their stride and the weaknesses in the Bears’ defence.

Four minutes in and Fountain stepped inside the cover to score easily between the posts, Kramer’s goal almost putting the Centurions out of sight.

Six minutes later, Paul Maloney charged through but the ball was stolen from him only for it to bounce back into his arms and he was able to cross between the posts and the game was up for the Bears.

Saints’ defence was tremendous and their counter attack sensational.

A Scott Clendenning-Fenton chip was picked up by Wisbech’s finest, Rudi van der Merwe before Kramer finished the move with a superb run from halfway, his conversion was a formality and the blue and yellow ribbons were being prepared for the Harry Jepson Trophy.

The one-way traffic continued as Fountain completed his hat-trick before Kramer grabbed his second finishing another sweeping move to which the Bears had absolutely no answer.

In the final few minutes, England Lionheart van der Merwe collected a clearing kick and broke through the middle to score between the posts.

From the restart, an attempt to find touch by the Bears went horribly wrong and the ball went straight to Darren Westhead who raced away for the Centurions’ final try of an outstanding performance.

Scrum half Adam Kal earned the Bev Risman Medal as man of the match for his superb kicking game that pushed the Bears back deep into their own territory and created opportunities for his eager team-mates.

Rampling commented: “We knew Coventry are a really tough side and that were in for a tough game.”

“We didn’t panic early on when they scored, we played well, kept to the structure and discipline and posted the points.”

“I’m really proud of all the boys and looking forward to next season and being in this position again.”

Cents: Kramer, Fountain, Brown, Westhead, van der Merwe, O’Rourke, Kal, Dube, Rampling (C), Bell, Lake, Kambouris, Maloney.

Subs used: Edwards, Hollister, Shaw, Kellaway.

Tries: Brown (18), Fountain (22, 46, 66), O’Rourke (26), Rampling (39), Maloney (52), Kramer (56, 69), van der Merwe (74), Westhead (76).

Goals: Kramer 6/11.

Bears: McGrory, Wilding, Viggers, Massey, Johnson, Pratt, Clendenning-Fenton, Jenkins, Brown, Evans, Watts, Nicholls, Callaway.

Subs used: Robinson, Burnside, Watts, Wesley.

Try: Viggars (9)

Goals: Pratt 0/1

Bev Risman Medal: Adam Kal (Cents)

Half time: 20-4

Referee: Gordon Wallace

Touch Judges: Gareth Billingham, Stewart Orton