Centurions curse missing organisation as bad spell sends cup hopes crashing

Dan Tominey in action for St Albans Centurions against North Herts Crusaders. Picture: Darryl Brown

Dan Tominey in action for St Albans Centurions against North Herts Crusaders. Picture: Darryl Brown - Credit: Archant

A disastrous 10-minute spell either side of half-time cost St Albans Centurions dear as they crashed out of the East League Cup.

They had been comprehensively outplayed by North Herts Crusaders on the opening day of the season but for long periods of this 54-22 semi-final defeat they caused the runaway league leaders problems.

But the Hitchin side bagged three tries in the closing stages of the half before adding another just after the break to kill off the Cents’ hopes.

They had started brightly enough with tries from Jake Lawrence and the returning Nick Woolley cancelling out one from Tom Hamer and a penalty try for a high tackle.

It meant they were still neck and neck after 30 minutes but it was then that things started to go wrong and legs began to tire.

And the north Herts’ speed merchants stepped up a gear and took the game away from the visitors.

Josh Parkhouse, Harry Cartwright and Dave Hatch all scored and Ben Doughty added to his conversions with a try.

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It left St Albans 34-10 down but not out. And the Centurions showed their heart and continued to put everything into the tackle and to drive the ball in without fear.

That was typified by the impressive Niall Loughlin and player-coach Simba Mupamhanga rolled back the years, making a match-leading 20 tackles whilst missing none.

An inspirational Woolley grabbed his hat-trick with two more tries under the posts but resolute defending from the Crusaders kept the Centurions out when other sides would have conceded.

Sheer exhaustion from the visitors allowed the home side to score late breakaway tries and add a little extra gloss to their well-deserved victory.

“Those guys were good”, admitted Mupamhanga, “but when we were organised and stuck to the game plan we had their measure. Our first try was straight off the training ground and simply tore them apart.

“It was our inability to stay organised for the whole 80 minutes, to stay focused when we were tiring, that’s what made the difference and what we’ll be working to put right.”

St Albans go to St Ives Roosters on Saturday.