Play-off berth booked for St Albans Centurions despite defeat to the Crusaders
- Credit: Archant
St Albans Centurions confirmed their place in the end-of-season play-offs despite falling to a 40-32 defeat to North Herts Crusaders.
Having made the journey up the A1 to Hitchin for the final league game, the Cents got off to a great start.
From the kick-off Scott Clewlow burst through the Crusaders’ defence and, following four good drives by the Cents’ forwards, second-row Roy Dube went over in the corner.
North Herts hit straight back and with the Centurions’ defence expecting a kick on the fifth tackle, they ran it through them to level the score.
It was to be the pattern for most of the game as both teams went from end-to-end.
They managed to hold each other out until a four-minute period saw Joe Shaw punch through for two quick tries, one of which was converted by Nick Woolley.
But in keeping with the game, Crusaders then caught the Cent’s defence sleeping and managed three tries and one conversion in an eight-minute spell to lead 18-14.
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But there would be one final twist before half-time, Woolley going through on the last play for a 20-18 Centurions lead.
Another pair of quick tries followed shortly after the restart, with both coming from the hosts.
Cents’ full-back Sam Allen then went on an almost expected run to the line, which he converted himself to level the match once more at 26-26.
But with 20 minutes to go, tiredness began to rear its head in the Cents’ defence and Crusaders took advantage with yet another brace of tries in a five-minute spell.
Allen came back to the party with his second, this one converted by Woolley but that still left Cents two points adrift.
And as the game reached its climax, a converted try four minutes from time from the hosts finished the scoring off.
It leaves St Albans in fourth and facing a trip to Hemel on Saturday in the play-off semi-final.
The Crusaders get home-field advantage in the other semi-final when they take on Bedford Tigers.