Cents win Raging Bull Shield

St Albans Centurions with the Raging Bull Shield.

St Albans Centurions with the Raging Bull Shield. - Credit: Archant

St Albans Centurions beat Beckenham Bears on Sunday to lift the Raging Bull Shield.

The teams were chosen for the pre-season game because both chose Raging Bull Sportswear as their kit providers for the 2014 season.

Cents assistant coach Andy Lake said: “It was a great pre-season game for us. We were missing a few regular players, but the boys who stepped in for them couldn’t be faulted, they did a superb job.

“The first half was pretty even, but we started to build up momentum in the second and were unstoppable. This bodes well for us, as we meet Beckenham again at the end of this month in the first round of the London Cup.”

The St Albans team, debuting their new kit, travelled to Croydon in south London missing a few players. Full back Gareth Waters was absent, both Josh Lawrence and Ryan Shorter were playing at a South East England student trial match and Joe Shaw had work commitments with the fire brigade. One good piece of news was the return of previously injured Matt Stringer, who had his first run out of the pre-season and scored a try.

The game started at a brisk pace, and given the sunshine and lack of wind in south London, continued throughout the game. The good sized crowd didn’t have to wait long after the first whistle before the Bears scored the opening try of the game, followed soon after by the first try for the Cents, scored by Hooker George Stevens - both of the conversions were unsuccessful.

Ashley Westhead scored the first of his hat trick of tries, following efficient teamwork down the left flank by the Centurions’ attacking players.

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After an intense 20 minutes, Stringer was sin-binned for 10 minutes, and the Bears managed to score another try whilst he was off the pitch, followed by the first successful conversion, bringing the score at half time to 10-8 in Beckenham’s favour.

Whilst the first half was fairly even, the Cents began to put pressure on the Londeners in the second. Soon after the re-start, Cents prop Scott ‘Stan’ Clewlow powered his way over the line, a try that was successfully converted by captain Rob Holbrook, putting the Centurions back into the lead.

Following Brad Webber being held up over the line, Stringer returned to the pitch to score the team’s fourth try of the match, which was converted by Holbrook.

After great team work from the Cents’ midfield players, stand-in fullback Kieran O’Shea crossed the white line, bringing the score to 10-24.

Almost from kick off the Cents added yet another try to their tally, following a textbook move utilising the overlap which ended in Ashley Westhead’s second try of the game.

There followed a period of St Albans pressure, culminating in the Bears reclaiming possession of the ball, only to be pushed back over the line by Stringer for a goal-line drop out. The kick was caught by Nick Woolley and passed along the line to Holbrook, who scored and successful converted his own try.

Almost immediately from the re start, the Bears conceded another goal line drop out, from which man of the match Sam Norris collected the ball and started a move which culminated in Darren Westhead losing the ball on the try line.

A lapse of concentration from the Cents allowed the Bears to score and convert another try, bringing the score to 34-16.

With five minutes left on the clock, Ashley Westhead scored his third try of the game, tucking it away in the left hand corner to bring the final score to 38-16 to the Cents.

Cents are at home next Sunday, when they play the last of their pre-season games against Northampton Demons.