Centurions take positives from pre-season friendly

ST ALBANS Centurions were beaten 40-22 by London Skolars in a friendly encounter.

The St Albans side travelled to White Hart Lane, Tottenham not to take on the mighty Spurs in a cross code match but to cross swords with the ‘A’ team of semi-pro Championship One rugby league outfit London Skolars, in another pre-season match.

Coach Shane Rampling travelled with a mix of experienced and junior players whereas the Skolars fielded a strong team with five of their players being regulars in their first team, and several others knocking on the door of semi-pro rugby.

Within five minutes the St Albans side were still settling down when a Skolars player ran 30 yards through broken play to score an unconverted try.

Cents hit back when Lewis Dempsey drew two defenders and provided a lovely flick out the back only for the Cents centre to drop the ball in front of the try line.

Skolars next attacked in numbers and broke through a hastily retreating Cents defence. They looked like it was a sure fire try but for an outstanding tackle by Ross Viner. This only delayed the inevitable, as a disorganised retreating Cents line had no answer to the Skolars winger’s darting and side-tepping run into the left hand corner for a converted try.

Skolars were up for this game now and ran in two more tries against a clearly unsettled Centurions outfit.

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Just before half-time, Lewis Dempsey sent up a high cross field kick and Cents’ Brad Webbers jump forced the Skolars defender to panic and knock on, but the resulting Cents attack from the drop out almost came off only for the Cents player knocking on as he crossed the try line.

The second half started like the first, with an over-ambitious Cents long pass being intercepted and Skolars scoring under the posts. The Cents began to settle and a 20-yard run by Scott Clellow put George Stevens through for a try that was converted by Dempsey.

The experienced London team then hit back and got two quick tries in succession. At this point the Cents coach began to put his more senior players onto the pitch and the difference began to tell.

Martin Day dragged four Skolars defenders 30 yards downfield before he was pulled down and the ball went out to Dylan Rampling who was unstoppable from 10 yards out and went over for a converted try.

From the kick-off the ball eventually went to Cents flying winger Rudi Van Der Merwe who sliced right through the London defence and went over for a converted try.

Although a further Skolars try was next, the last 15 minutes or so were all St Albans with player/coach Shane Rampling coming off the bench and the senior players leading by example.

Centurions winger Gareth Waters received a high tackle that ended his game, but that fired up the Cents and once again Dylan Rampling took three Skolars players with him as he charged over the line to score Cents last try.

After the game coach Shane Rampling, said: “[This was] another good pre-season work out for the boys. They performed very well against a big, experienced team.

“This defeat was a learning curve for some of them.

“Our defence needs to sharpen up when playing up field and we need to maintain our discipline. Most of our handling errors are down to a lack of game time, but these are all things that can be worked on.”