GALLERY: St Albans beat Harpenden in mud bath derby
- Credit: Archant
St Albans upset local rivals Harpenden 14-13 at home for only their third win of the season in the London Two North West division.
Saints edged the first half thanks to a try from lock forward John Sayers and a Mark Kentish penalty with winger Ash Smith scoring for the visitors.
Hooker Brenton Lemiere was sent off just before the interval but Kentish’s boot kept them out in front despite a try from Harpenden captain Adam Wheatley. A euphoric St Albans held on for a deserved victory to snap a five match losing streak.
The treacherous conditions, akin to a swamp, effectively meant both sides were grappling after a bar of soap as handling errors littered the game’s opening salvos.
Full-back Kentish’s penalty gave the Saints an early lead but Harpenden’s response was immediate and after a prolonged spell of pressure, Smith touched down in the corner.
The undeterred hosts deservedly retook the lead in the 33rd minute when the virtually unrecognisable Sayers emerged from a morass of muddy bodies for a crucial score.
Just as the home side looked to be storming ahead like a runaway freight train, with an 8-5 lead, hooker Lemiere was sent off for an off the ball incident just before half time.
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Gaps began to appear in St. Albans’ resolute defence and Harpenden’s runaway buffalo, skipper Wheatley, thundered over to retake the lead.
In a topsy-turvy and scrappy affair Saints hit straight back with two quick fire penalties from Kentish before the hour mark for a 14-10 lead.
The contest was teetering on a knife edge when Harpenden reduced their arrears to one point following St. Albans’ indiscipline.
The inspired Saints, belying their lowly position of second bottom, held on for a heroic win with the final whistle cuing scenes of pandemonium.