Play-off defeat to Roosters brings curtain down on a decent season for Centurions
PUBLISHED: 13:51 06 August 2019 | UPDATED: 13:51 06 August 2019
St Albans Centurions' season ended with a spirited display at St Ives Roosters and player-coach Simba Mupamhanga was taking the positives from a year which saw the club end a nine-year wait for silverware.
Their East League Cup win over Brentwood Eels was achieved in dramatic finish with a titanic finish to the game and for a brief moment in the 50-36 play-off loss to the Roosters, there was hope history could repeat itself.
The coach though accepted the hosts were the better team once again, having beaten the Cents twice already this season, but feels the building blocks are in place for a better year again next time around.
He said: "St Ives are a quality outfit who've shown us the levels we have to get to next year.
"This season has been a bit stop-and-start but we've demonstrated we've got the heart and the hunger to compete with anyone.
"The Cup success is something we'll build on and with so many youngsters in the squad, the future's looking bright."
The joy of the cup final seemed a long way off when the Cambridgeshire outfit crossed the line for a converted try after just 90 seconds.
Ten minutes later they scored again before Sam Beton restored a little bit of order.
It didn't last long. The best team in the league scored four more tries before the break in a blistering spell of quality rugby league.
However, even amidst the onslaught, St Albans refused to let their heads go down.
The magnificent Scott Clewlow grabbed two tries of his own in the first half, the second converted by William Hagerty, to leave Cents trailing 36-14 at the break.
Any comeback appeared over when St Ives scored early in the second half but they resurrected themselves when Joe Shaw and Peter Strain touched down in impressive style, Dominic Hearne converting the latter.
And the Cents tried everything they could to wrestle away the initiative.
A breakaway from the home team saw them extend their lead again, only for Hagerty and Callum Ralph to score converted efforts.
It put St Albans within 10 points with five minutes to go but a try just before the final whistle finished things off.