St Albans leave it late to claim derby win over Welwyn on opening day
- Credit: KARYN HADDON
More than 500 days without competitive rugby was finally ended with St Albans trip to Welwyn - although they had to wait almost 80 minutes more before claiming victory.
Playing with five debutants, it came down to the final 10 minutes with the visitors to Hobbs Way trailing 7-0.
But a try from skipper Tony Stevenson and then five points from the boot of Harry Trude, the last with almost the final kick of the game, gave St Albans a 10-7 win in London North West Three.
Saints had promising breaks from Joe Seymour and Dom Boost and sterling defensive work from Adam Jasinski close to his own line but neither side were able to find a breakthrough before the first 40 minutes were completed.
It was Welwyn who did manage to cross the whitewash first midway through the second half, Adam Harcourt getting the try and Chris Kemp the extras.
But that just galvanised the Saints and when Trude kicked a penalty to the corner, a well-executed catch and drive put Stevenson over.
Trude's conversion from out wide cannoned off the post and over the bar to tie things up and then with the clock almost done, a promising position for the visitors was stopped illegally and Trude kicked the winning points.
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Old Albanian's fine start to the new season continues although the 32-26 at Hinckley was a close-run thing.
It was a definite clash of styles too, OAs putting the emphasis on fast, attacking play while the home side opted for a traditional forward-based game.
That tested the Albanian pack in both the scrum and line-out but sterling work at the breakdown and in defence, plus slick work by the backs, eventually saw them claim a result which was a lot closer than it might have been.
For the third week in a row Dan Watt opened the scoring with a penalty before adding a conversion when Alex Noot was allowed to race untouched from his own 22 to the Hinckley line.
The sides then traded converted scores, Jo Terry-Brown the scorer for OAs, before two unconverted tries from Morgan Thompson and Jarryd Sage.
It gave Albanian a 27-7 lead at the break but after 15 minutes of pressure, Hinckley scored twice to narrow the gap to six points.
Ben Charnock eased the away side's worries but Hinckley had the last word and a late try gave them two losing bonus points.