Kicking king Kentish puts St Albans into next round
EDF Senior Vase Fourth Round St Albans 22 Enfield Ignatians 21 MARK Kentish s last-minute penalty gave St Albans the narrowest of victories and with it a place in the next round of the EDF Senior Vase. It was not until virtually the last kick of the mat
EDF Senior Vase Fourth Round
St Albans 22 Enfield Ignatians 21
MARK Kentish's last-minute penalty gave St Albans the narrowest of victories and with it a place in the next round of the EDF Senior Vase.
It was not until virtually the last kick of the match that St Albans overhauled their opponents' lead but Kentish kept his cool to put the home side through.
Although Saints had players returning from injury, they opted to stay with the players who had done so well last week with Dan Hillier and Gareth Lane added to the replacements bench.
The match was played in poor conditions on a wet pitch, in swirling winds and driving rain. To their credit, both teams and referee Jon Chapman combined to produce an entertaining game despite the appalling weather.
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The wind was difficult to read but possibly favoured the visitors as they kicked off. Ignatians adapted to the conditions well and dominated the early play. They kept St Albans on the defensive with fine driving play amongst their heavy pack. They took an early lead when they drove over from a line out after five minutes which they did well to convert from the touchline.
St Albans initially struggled to come to terms with the conditions but, on a rare excursion into the opposition half, Tim Davy grabbed a try after a series of strong runs from the forwards. The reliable Kentish converted to draw the home side level.
The game settled down but with conditions dominating it became a forward battle. Although the visiting forwards outweighed the St Albans pack, the scrums remained competitive but the visitors dominated at the line outs.
Ignatians scored their second try in similar circumstances to their first when again their forwards drove over the St Albans line with the conversion added.
Just before the half-time whistle, Kentish kicked a penalty to bring the scores to 10-14 at the break.
St Albans turned round with the wind now in their favour but conditions worsened, as the rain increased and the temperature dropped. St Albans were stung by an early Ignatians score with the damage done once more by the forwards and the stand off again converted.
The rest of the game was dominated by the home side but they were further rocked by yet another injury, with Charlie Howard leaving the field after picking up a knee injury. The St Albans forwards, bolstered by Dan Hillier, raised their game and exerted pressure on the tiring Enfield eight.
Despite the conditions, Saints tried to open up play but it really was not a day for throwing the ball around and, as the half progressed, they reverted to a driving forward game.
The large Enfield pack proved to be the least fit and gradually their defence became more desperate and penalties ensued. The immaculate Kentish, who did not miss all afternoon, took advantage and whittled the lead away.
With only a minute left to play and 21-19 down, St Albans threw everything into attack. At a ruck under the posts, Enfield were penalised for coming in from the side and Kentish put the home side into the lead for the first time in the game. There was time to restart but the Enfield kicker in his haste put the ball straight into touch and the game was over.
It was a gritty win for St Albans and Joe Shaw was named their man of the match. This week St Albans make the short trip to Harpenden in a top-of-the-table clash.
St Albans: Lemiere, Weldon, Green, Davies, Davy, Shaw, Stanford, Joubert, Still, Howard, Alderton, Morete, Grover, Coy, Kentish. Subs: Scanlan, Hillier, Lane.
l St Albans IIs also played winning 22-15 away at Harpenden IIs.
l HARPENDEN picked up their fourth win in a row as they moved into the fifth round of the EDF Senior Vase after a good 18-12 win against Rochford Hundred.
They will now travel to Tottonians in the next round with the tie due to take place on Saturday, January 17.