GALLERY: St Albans beat Harpenden in mud bath derby
PUBLISHED: 12:36 03 February 2015 | UPDATED: 15:22 04 February 2015
St Albans upset local rivals Harpenden 14-13 at home for only their third win of the season in the London Two North West division.
St Albans RFC 14 Harpenden RFC 13
A St Albans player is tackled by Harpenden
The St Albans scrum half looks for a pass
A Harpenden player gets to grips with his man
A St Albans player tries to keep his hands warm in difficult conditions
The two teams get stuck in
The Harpenden bench
Harpenden and St Albans compete in a line out
St Albans make a tackle
St Albans make a tackle
Harpenden and St Albans battle for possession
The Harpenden front row
The Harpenden scrum half prepares to put the ball in a scrum
A St Albans player slips a tackle
A St Albans player brushes off a tackle
Saints edged the first half thanks to a try from lock forward John Sayers and a Mark Kentish penalty with winger Ash Smith scoring for the visitors.
Hooker Brenton Lemiere was sent off just before the interval but Kentish’s boot kept them out in front despite a try from Harpenden captain Adam Wheatley. A euphoric St Albans held on for a deserved victory to snap a five match losing streak.
The treacherous conditions, akin to a swamp, effectively meant both sides were grappling after a bar of soap as handling errors littered the game’s opening salvos.
Full-back Kentish’s penalty gave the Saints an early lead but Harpenden’s response was immediate and after a prolonged spell of pressure, Smith touched down in the corner.
The undeterred hosts deservedly retook the lead in the 33rd minute when the virtually unrecognisable Sayers emerged from a morass of muddy bodies for a crucial score.
Just as the home side looked to be storming ahead like a runaway freight train, with an 8-5 lead, hooker Lemiere was sent off for an off the ball incident just before half time.
Gaps began to appear in St. Albans’ resolute defence and Harpenden’s runaway buffalo, skipper Wheatley, thundered over to retake the lead.
In a topsy-turvy and scrappy affair Saints hit straight back with two quick fire penalties from Kentish before the hour mark for a 14-10 lead.
The contest was teetering on a knife edge when Harpenden reduced their arrears to one point following St. Albans’ indiscipline.
The inspired Saints, belying their lowly position of second bottom, held on for a heroic win with the final whistle cuing scenes of pandemonium.