Cents too strong for Rhinos

Cents turn on the style in second half to send Rhinos home empty handed

RLC Southern Premiership

St Albans Centurions 42

Eastern Rhinos 22

ST ALBANS Centurions turned on a second half super show against their visitors from Ipswich, as they maintained top spot in the RLC Premier South. Recent fixtures between the two rivals have been close fought and feisty affairs, and with temperature exceeding 30oC this fixture was never likely to be any different.

Cents, missing Andy Lake and Rudi van der Mewre both on international duty, as well as Roy Dube and Oli Fountain, got he ball rolling on 5 mins. when the mercurial Matt O’Rourke benefited from an Adam Kal blindside move from the base of a scrum and raced in from 30 metres, Andy John missing the conversion. It wasn’t long before Rhinos got into some rhythm taking advantage of Cents mistakes, their first try coming from a Russ Kellaway fumble on his own line, Adam Cook the beneficiary and then on 18 minutes a Cents knock on gifted the ball to Matt Harwood who raced in and with Pete LeMarquand converting both Cents were down 12-4. This turnaround stung a response from the Cents and they benefited from their kick off going into touch and direct from the resulting scrum powerhouse forward Joe Shaw smashed his way over, John converting.

The fast pace of the game did not relent, but the temperature was beginning to take its toll as fatigue crept in and on 28 minutes Rhinos took advantage of another Cents mistake as Dan Hensby misjudged a ball in his own in goal area and Tyrone da Silva was on hand to mop up. Cents lifted their game for the remainder of the half and two tries in 3 minutes, the first for the hard working Mike Hollister and the second, the brace for O’Rourke left the half time score at 22-18 to Cents.

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After a welcome half time break Cents geared up for the challenge of the second half and the first period was full of uncompromising tackling and no little flair and Cents showed their class on 6mins when they kept the ball alive on the last tackle and great interplay between Westhead and Hensby freed up the outstanding Adam Kambouris who powered over in the corner. Cents now had an eight point lead and were determined not to let the Rhinos back into the game, but it took them a further 10 minutes before they troubled the scorekeeper, but the wait was worth it as following a huge hit on Keri Bell, the hard working prop gathered himself only to be fouled and from the resultant tap penalty Aaron Brown showed no fear as he smashed thorough the Rhinos defence. On 19 minutes, the crowd were brought to their feet as an outrageous piece of skill from Kal as he chipped the ball over the approaching Rhinos players, regathered and raced in, brilliant ! Cents registered the final score on 25 minutess when the ball went through the three quarters for John to race in, the speedy winger converting his own try. There was time in the final 10 minutes for Rhinos to register a consolation try through Scott Warner, and a minor contretemps resulting in Paul Maloney being sin binned, but this did not overshadow an outstanding second half Centurions display.

Cents now go into next week’s must win game with second place Hammersmith with confidence, as the London side were sent packing by third placed West London on Saturday and a win would pretty much seal the minor Premiership.

Cents: Kellaway, John (1t, 5c), Brown (1t), Westhead, Hensby, O’Rourke (2t), Kal (1t), Edwards, Rampling, Bell, Kambouris (1t), Coyle, Maloney, Hollister (1t), Viner, Stewart, Shaw (1t), Webber.

An under strength Centurions Development side went down to a heavy home defeat to a classy Bedford Tigers side, 10-76. Tigers, who were playing in the Premier Competition last year set their stall out form the first minute when they crossed the Cents line, and despite good tries from Sam Wingad and Joe Brace, Cents went in at half time 50-10 down. A spirited effort in the second half restricted the visitors to a further 26 points. The good news for Cents is that the Development side was able to field three players graduating form their U16s side, with Brain Kugra, Adam Sherwood-Pierce and Aaron Grieg on debut.