Crusaders mauling certainly not the season-opener that the Centurions were after
- Credit: Archant
It was always going to be a tough start to the East League season but the 58-6 loss at North Herts Crusaders was not the way new St Albans Centurions’ captain Joe Baker saw things going.
That said though the skipper was keen to identify the positives from the new-look team.
He said: “Against an outfit as slick and well-drilled as North Herts, the boys never let their heads go down and continued to fight for the shirt until the very end.
“The fact that we were camped out on their try-line as the final whistle blew is a testament to their spirit and teamwork.
“That’s a brilliant foundation for us to build on for the rest of the season”.
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Led by the old-guard stalwarts of Roy Dube, Joe Shaw and Matt Stringer, the Centurions fielded a team of mixed experience against the Crusaders, a favourite for the title prior to kick-off.
Regulars like Scott Cluelow and Nick Woolley battled shoulder-to-shoulder with promising newcomers such as flying winger Jake Lawrence and Alex Powdrell who shone in attack and defence.
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Whilst the future does look bright with so many new faces on the scene, the learning curve will be a very steep one if Saturday’s performance is not to be repeated.
Ill-discipline led to a string of penalties and the loss of both territory and possession.
Whilst individually the team tackled their hearts out, Niall Braniff in particular made 19 and missed none, as soon as the defensive line lost its shape, the Crusaders’ ruthless attack punished it.
Offensively, more guile and pace are required if opposition defences are to be exposed as too many times the Cents let promising situations go begging.
It will be something for coach Simba Mupamhanga to work on before the visit of Bedford Tigers to Toulmin Drive on Saturday.
Kick-off is at 2.30pm.
The club have announced the continuing support from John McGuinness of The White Swan, Upper Dagnall Street, who will be the club’s major sponsor for 2018.
Chairman Andy Lake said: “I cannot speak highly enough about John McGuinness. He is just pleased that he can give something back to St Albans by way of supporting one of the towns sporting clubs.
“We have put The White Swan on the front of our playing shirts as a thank you to John.”