Gallery: St Albans edge Tabard to record first league win

St Albans run into strong Tabard defence

St Albans run into strong Tabard defence - Credit: Archant

St Albans secured their first win of the London 2NW season on Saturday after narrowly edging out Tabard at Boggymead.

The Saints conceded 12 unanswered points in the first half but momentum shifted in the second period as the hosts kept Tabard out and scored three tries and a penalty to win 20-12.

With the weather overcast, damp and dreary it was Tabard that started the brighter, from their kick-off Saints secured the ball but Harry Trude’s clearance was charged down and Tabard scored their first try just by the posts. Within the first minute the visitors had a seven point lead following a successful conversion.

Tabard kept the initiative and continued to pressurise Saints, putting them on the back foot and pinning them in their own half. St Albans laboured to try and get their game together, but struggled to get even the basics right, being penalised for a crooked feed to the scrum, something which reoccurred throughout the game.

It was from this continued Tabard pressure that, after 23 minutes, the visitors scored again following a scrum with their back row powering over, the conversion was missed but Tabard led 12-0.

St Albans woke up and found a footing in the game and, with the centre paring of Jeza Walmsley and Joe Grove looking effective and moving the ball well, the back line showed signs of being a threat.

However, Saints had little to show for their endeavours with only a Trude attempted drop goal in the first half hour. The commitment from the team was now being to manifest itself and Tabard were having to do their own share of defensive work.

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With Saints applying the pressure, Tabard were penalised for offside, Harry Trude kicked for touch and secured a lineout five metres from the Tabard line. After winning the ball, Saints forwards drove for the line and veteran John Sayers touched down.

St Albans continued to threaten and, when Tabard did attack, showed resolute defence and strong tackling, something that was missing from last week’s loss to Old Merchant Taylors. The ball distribution was much improved and the Saints’ back line moved with purpose, especially when full back Dan Townson joined the line and demonstrated his fine running skills.

Half time arrived with the score 12-5 in Tabard’s favour, but now St Albans were making a game of it.

Half time took the momentum from the game and in the early exchanges of the third quarter neither side had ascendancy. Saints forwards lost some of their drive and again found themselves pulled up when putting the ball in the scrum. Tabard could not break down the St Albans defence and reverted to kicking over the top only to find Townson in excellent form.

Just on the hour, following a period of St Albans forward pressure, Tabard infringed and a penalty was award within kickable range. Trude stepped up and secured the three points to close the gap to five.

Tabard were kicking from defence and from one of these kicks replacement Will Allcott fielded and cut inside before being tackled. The forwards secured the ball and it was spun out to the backs, Townson joined the line and raced to the Tabard line to score. As he touched down he was unfairly shoulder charged and referee, Tony Leake, awarded a penalty try which Trude converted. St Albans now had the lead for the first time in the game, 15-12.

The response from Tabard was immediate as they fought hard to find the form they showed early in the game. Saints, however, were not going to let this slip away from them and both forwards and backs displayed determination to improve their lead.

With full-time approaching, the St Albans forwards made ground, and with the ball coming out to the backs, it went wide to winger Dan Satchell who beat this opposite number who scored a fine try five metres from touch. Although the try went unconverted Saints were now in charge and had an eight-point lead.

After the restart there was little time to play and when the ball went to touch the referee blew time, handing St Albans their first win.