Cents sink Navy

RLC Southern Premiership Portsmouth Navy Seahawks 18 St Albans Centurions 54 The Centurions travelled to the south coast on Saturday to take on the Portsmouth Navy Seahawks. The Centurions have already secured a play-off berth this was a must-win game fo

RLC Southern Premiership

Portsmouth Navy Seahawks 18 St Albans Centurions 54

The Centurions travelled to the south coast on Saturday to take on the Portsmouth Navy Seahawks.

The Centurions have already secured a play-off berth this was a must-win game for the Seahawks to keep their own play-off hopes alive. By the final whistle, the Centurions had recorded a comprehensive victory with a great team performance against a big and, at times, overly physical Navy team.

The Cents didn't get off to the best of starts when, playing into a blustery wind, they allowed the opening kick-off to bounce into touch.

However, good defence stopped the Seahawks making much progress and a tremendous hit from the impressive Joe Vassie gave possession to the Cents. Powerful runs from Vassie, fellow prop Roy Dube and loose forward Johnno Elvin, combined with some silky running from Brant Allan at full back and Rudi van der Merwe put the Seahawks under constant pressure. Shane Rampling then turned back the clock with a brilliant break and off-loaded to Adam Kal, who was one of four supporting Cents, to go over for the opening score.

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Andy John converted, and eventually took his game tally to 26 points.

Rudi van der Merwe, Brant Allan and Alan Petty all made inroads down the left side and Joe Vassie showed great strength to go over for the second try. John converted to make the score 12-0. The Cents maintained the pressure and it wasn't too long before Andy Lake, back from international duty with the England Lionhearts, beat the covering defence to score in the corner. John again converted.

The Seahawks were becoming increasingly frustrated and a head butt on young David Coyle sparked an altercation between the teams. The referee did well to control the situation and, from the resultant St Albans penalty, the Cents made their way to the Seahawks' line.

Loose forward Elvin showed good maturity and strength to go over for the fourth try. John converted to make the half time score 24-0 to the Centurions.

After the break props Dave Roberson and Tobi Osibodu made good progress and Adam Kal then used the wind to good effect with a 50-metre kick that stopped just short of the line.

Winger John outpaced the covering defence to score and take the lead to 28-0. Cents maintained the pressure from the restart and, after establishing good field position, the ball was moved out quickly to the right side for John to squeeze in for another try.

The Seahawks' restart failed to travel the 10-metres but the Cents defence did not react quickly enough to the referee's play on call and the Cents line was finally breached for a converted try to make the score 32-6.

The Cents were quickly on the attack and young Osibodu produced probably the play of the game. Taking the hit up from first receiver, Osibodu ran into a wall of three large Seahawks defenders.

Two staggered away dazed, while Osibodu, minus his scrum cap, carried the third for another 10 metres.

John then went in for his hat-trick, which he converted to make the score 38-6.

The Cents then lost a bit of focus and allowed the Seahawks in for a soft try after some weak tackling.

At 38-12 the game was secure and the Cents began to throw the ball about and play some champagne rugby.

Lake produced a superb break and off-loaded to the supporting cents veteran Russ Kelleway who went over to take the score to 42-12.

The Seahawks never gave up and some powerful running saw them score another converted try. The revival was short lived as young Osibodu then took another hit up into the heart of the Seahawks, who couldn't stop him, and he went over for a try, converted by John to make the score 48-18.

There was just enough time on the clock for the Cents to take the score to over half a century for the first time this season as Rampling got on the end of a smart move and scored with John converting to make the final score 54-18.

Commenting after the game, coach Shane Rampling said: "This was probably our best performance of the season. We had a pretty strong team out but this gave us a chance to give the youngsters some quality game time.

"We played some great rugby at times, but it was also hard work and we stood up to the physical challenge posed by the Seahawks. They are a strong team, they never give up and you always know that you have been in a game against them.

"Young Johnno Elvin took the Players' Player of the Match award, just pipping Joe Vassie and Rudi van der Merwe, but the fact that nine of the boys picked up nominations shows just what a good team performance this was."

Hainault Bulldogs visit Cotlandswick next week for the Centurions final home game of the regular season.

Team: Allan, Johns, Kellaway, van der Merwe, Gow, Rampling, Kal, Dube, Simpson, Vassie (J), Lake, Coyle (D), Elvin, Roberson, Osibodu, Vassie (F), Chapman, Petty, Westhead, Coyle (R).

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