Late Okwusogu try sinks Navy

Rugby League Conference Southern Premier Division St Albans Centurions 32 Portsmouth Navy Seahawks 30 A SENSATIONAL last minute try from Mike Okwusogu secured victory for St Albans Centurions against Portsmouth Navy Seahawks and kept the Centurions play

Rugby League Conference

Southern Premier Division

St Albans Centurions 32 Portsmouth Navy Seahawks 30

A SENSATIONAL last minute try from Mike Okwusogu secured victory for St Albans Centurions against Portsmouth Navy Seahawks and kept the Centurions' play off hopes alive.

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It was a well deserved, if ugly, win for the Cents in a match marred by the sending off of a player from either side.

The Cents started strongly and were unlucky not to score from the kick off when a barnstorming run from prop forward Lewis Padmore set up Shane Rampling, who went close.

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Such an early threat seemed to make the Seahawks panic and lose their heads as indiscipline saw them lose two players when Dugan was sin binned and Wagstaffe sent off.

The St Albans side took full advantage and swept into a 10-0 lead with two tries from the gifted Oli Fountain. The second was a particularly good effort, coming after a scintillating break from Okwusogu.

The Seahawks fought back with tries from Foster, Dugan and Madigan after Cents lost winger Chris True who was controversially dismissed for an alleged high tackle.

The game was lacking cohesion and both teams were struggling to find a rhythm or any real pattern to their play.

On 30 minutes the game sparked into life as South African winger Jacques Steynberg powered his way over the line to level the scores after good work from coach Rampling. With Fountain converting the Cents went into half time with a 16-14 lead.

The second half started as the first had ended with a flurry of attacking play from the Cents. Jonno Elvin was held up over the line. Then an excellent combination between Rudi van der Merwe and Rampling saw the ball fed left to Steynberg. The South African, who has proved to be a real discovery this season, stretched the lead with his second try of the match by simply powering through his opposite number to touch down in the corner.

Just when the game was gaining momentum, an unfortunate injury to Portsmouth stand off, Wayne Dugan, who had been playing extremely well, held up proceedings for 10 minutes. Dugan was taken to hospital with a suspected broken ankle.

When hostilities resumed it was the Navy who seemed most threatening but the Centurions held firm and launched a series of attacks of their own. When young loose forward Jonno Elvin held up three players to burrow over the try line it looked like St Albans were gaining the ascendancy.

The Navy had other ideas as the excellent Tony Newcombe showed real power to grab another Portsmouth try.

Prop forward, Padmore, playing wide on the right, struck back for St Albans as he scored a try any winger would be proud of. Elvin surged through and the ball went right to Rampling, then Fountain, who fed Padmore for four points, which gave the Cents a 28-20 lead.

When they ought to have tried to consolidate, the Centurions seemed to lose concentration and silly mistakes meant that they gifted possession to the Seahawks, who took full advantage with tries from Madigan and a lovely effort from hooker Alex Scruton. The visitors held a two point advantage with five minutes left to play.

The see-saw game was far from over and after another exciting break from Padmore Cents gained possession. Fountain and Rampling surged forward and Padmore again was a matter of inches away from the try line, desperate to clinch the two points. When all seemed lost, it was left to winger Okwusogu to grab the dramatic match winning try with the last move of the game.

It was a win the St Albans side deserved, in as much as they wanted it the most.

Coach Shane Rampling was delighted with the result. He said: "It was a very ugly win but we got the two points and kept our season alive. The guys never gave up and snatched it at the last. We've got to be happy with that. We're really looking forward to next Tuesday when we take on West London here at Colney Heath. That's a must win situation and I'll tell you something - we will win."

The Centurions last home match of the League season is at the Recreation Ground, Colney Heath on Tuesday, July 29. Kick off is at 7.30pm.

St Albans Centurions: C. True, O. Fountain, M. Okwusogu, J. Steynberg, R. van der Merwe, S. Rampling, R. Dube, R. Smith, L. Padmore, J. Vassie, T. Martell, J. Elvin, T. Osibodeu; K. Mupamhanga, J. Molloy, D. Hensby, P.Chapman.

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