Saints crush local rivals

St Albans return to winning ways against Welwyn

London Two North West

St Albans 59 Welwyn 11

ST ALBANS returned to winning ways on Saturday when they welcomed local rivals Welwyn to Boggymead Spring.

Having just missed out last week, when having a decent opportunity to beat fellow high flyers, Stevenage, Saints were keen to dominate this particular fixture. This they did, although Welwyn never threw in the towel.

With the winter sun low in the sky, an important coin toss was won by home skipper Gareth Lane, who forced Welwyn to face that element and this proved crucial from the outset. Straight from the kick-off Saints fielded and recycled the ball. Stand-off Martin Alderton kicked long and the Welwyn wing, staring towards the sun, misjudged his position, carelessly stepping into touch. From the ensuing lineout, a catch and drive, then quick hands in the backs, found Saints close to the Welwyn line. A penalty was conceded by the visitors. Saints kicked for touch and the same catch and drive saw No.8 Craig Huddleston open the scoring, converted well from wide out by returning full-back Mark Kentish.

Welwyn had barely laid hands on the ball and found themselves seven points behind. It was the visitors’ however who played most of the rugby in the next 20 minutes, without really threatening the Saints line. They were rewarded with a well struck penalty to at least get something on the board. St. Albans, conversely, always looked dangerous in attack and as the game entered the second quarter the home side were starting to dominate.

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With 30 minutes gone, Saints won an attacking scrum on the Welwyn 22 in a central position. A brilliantly executed training ground move saw wing Ed Coy scythe through the visitors’ defence, a fine cover tackle stopped him just short of the line, but centre Ross Turnbull was on hand to take the pop pass and score. Once again Kentish converted.

Another Welwyn penalty brought the score back to 14-6, but with halftime approaching, a scintillating move was finished by wing Andy Flanagan in the left hand corner, showing both trickery and strength to get the ball down. Another Kentish conversion and Saints turned round 15 points to the good.

St. Albans started the second period as they had finished the first and it wasn’t long before the inevitable fourth try. Welwyn had infringed five metres out and with the defence in disarray, half-back Dan Smart took a quick tap. The opposition had made no attempt to retreat and when he was stopped short of the line, the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try, also sending the guilty Welwyn player to the sin-bin.

Saints soon made their numerical advantage tell and again from their trademark catch and drive, Smart saw a gap in the defence, peeling away from the maul and scoring unhindered. The next score highlightled how far Saints have come this season with backs and forwards exchanging roles in attack with ease. The ball was eventually spotted by flanker Jack Ransome to cap a superb Man of the Match’ performance. Kentish nailed his sixth conversion before being given a well earned rest.

Welwyn finally breached the home side’s line for a well deserved score, before Saints strode down the other end to nail their seventh, the second in this game for Huddleston, the assist coming from prop Sean Edwards.

Entering the final minutes and with the visitors’ defence wilting, centre Lane, always looking for the gap, found a hole in the Welwyn defence and although 40 metres out, he had just enough gas to reach the try line. Welwyn still went for it, but a miss-pass in their centres was picked off by poacher Lane, who this time could afford to jog the same route, the opposition now broken. Smart casually drop kicked the final conversion.

St Albans: Kentish, Coy, Lane, Turnbull, Alderton, Flanagan, Smart; Edwards, Monaghan, Lemiere, M Huddleston, Gorman, Styles, Ransome, C Huddleston. Reps: Weldon, Erwee, Watkins.