First win of season for Centurions
ST ALBANS Centurions team manager Tony Bottomley was left a proud man as his side secured their first win of the National Conference League Three season on Saturday.
The Cents claimed a 26-24 home win at their Toulmin Drive ground over last season’s Grand Finalists the Kippax Knights from Castleford.
Bottomley said: “Kippax are a good team. They were excellent in the first half with their offloads and quick play. However, in the second half it was all St Albans.
“Our two quick tries early on, Rudi’s [Van Der Merwe] intercept try and Lakey’s [Andy Lake’s] great effort killed off the Knights.
“In the end, we gained the upper hand as the game continued.
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“The boys did very well, I really am proud of them.”
The result proved the side from Hertfordshire had not been placed in a higher league this season just to make the numbers up.
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The game was frantic end-to-end rugby league with both teams putting in some outstanding running moves and brutal tackles.
Cents’ international winger Van Der Merwe was also playing his 100th game for the Cents, flying back from a business trip in Russia in order to do so, making him only the third player to achieve 100 games, along with Shane Rampling and Roy Dube.
The first quarter was marked by strong running forwards trying to size up the opposition and no points were scored.
That was until Cents’ hooker Ryan Kambouris pulled out a shimmy and sidestep that let him cross the line for the game’s first try that was converted by George Stevens.
Unfortunately for the St Albans team, this seemed to spur the Yorkshiremen on, and they proved how good they were when they ran in three converted tries to close the half 18-6 up.
The second period saw the Centurions step up their game and play some great expansive rugby.
Van Der Merwe celebrated his century of games by receiving the ball and running from the halfway line to touch down in the corner.
Five minutes later Cents’ new signing from South London Storm, centre Mark Benson, topped off an impressive debut by scoring in the opposite corner.
Within a few minutes of the restart, the visitors scored a converted try, making it 10 points difference with less than 20 minutes left to play.
A little later the Knights were attacking the Cents line when a long pass out wide was intercepted by Van Der Merwe, who ran 70 yards down field to score under the posts, all the while being chased by two Knights players.
With the try converted, the score was 24-20 to the visitors with 10 minutes left.
The Centurions then upped their game, with hard running and passing that pushed the Kippax boys back time and again.
With less than five minutes to go, captain Andy Lake got the ball and attacked the opposition line.
He broke three sets of tackles and although stopped by three players five yards out he found the strength to twist and fight in the tackle and managed to get the ball down to score.
With the scores even, the spectators were completely silent as Lewis Dempsey ran up and kicked the conversion that gave the Cents the lead.
The Centurions comfortably held the Knights in their own half for the remaining minutes of the game. The only downside to a great result, was that Ben Moore injured his arm during the game which has added to coach Shane Ramplings injury list.
Centurions play Coventry Bears at Toulmin Drive on Saturday. Kick off is at 2.30pm.