Saints edge Hampstead
Narrow win for St Albans
London 2 North West
St Albans 20 Hampstead 19
ST Albans returned to winning ways on Saturday, taking the spoils in a hard fought encounter with perenial rivals Hampstead at Boggymead Spring.
In the corresponding fixture at Hampstead earlier this season, Saints had come through to win by a single point and once again Saints triumphed by the narrowest of margins.
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The early tempo was set by the away side, testing the Saints defence both in the forwards and the backs. It was against the run of play when St Albans were awarded a penalty and their full back Mark Kentish, missing from last weeks defeat, calmly stepped up to open the scoring.
Hampstead continued to dominate possession and it was once again only Saints excellent defence that kept them at bay. However, it seemed only a matter of time before the pressure told and this proved to be the case when halfway through the first period, wave after wave of attack saw Saints eventually miss the vital tackle and the Hampstead centre crashed over under the posts.
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Saints now got their act together and possession was now being shared evenly. It was Hampstead once again who made the next breakthrough via some incisive running out wide. St Albans found themselves 12-3 behind heading for the halftime whistle.
If Saints didn’t score next you felt that the match would slip away. It was the home side that galvanised themselves for the latter minutes of the half. They were now retaining possession, making yards and varying the game-plan, causing the Hampstead defence to stop and think.
They fashioned, at this stage, the try of the match. The ball was recycled time and again by the marauding Saints pack, Styles and debutant Ransome in the back row particularly noticable and their front row, Edwards, Lemiere and Weldon providing the bulk to keep the momentum.
The ball was then spun out by scrum-half Charlie Howard to Alderton at stand off. His sweetly timed pass found centre Gareth Lane whose delightful break and casual off load in the tackle saw Kentish and Dickinson supporting and he found inside centre Duncan Sharp on his shoulder and although tackled, his strength got the ball to ground just over the try-line.
The Kentish conversion saw Saints turn round 12-10 in arrears.
The second half got under way with both sides again testing each other out but neither could stamp their authority. With 20 minutes remaining however, Hampstead scored a try from nothing with their right wing squeezing through a gap tight in the corner. Much to the consternation of the home side, the conversion was made leaving Saints needing to overturn a nine point deficit.
Saints set to the task well gaining a foothold in Hampstead territory. St Albans were now dominating and their weight of attack led to persistent Hampstead infringement.
Another Kentish strike narrowed the deficit to six but when he missed with his next attempt, Saints knew it was a converted try or nothing. The focus of their play was spot on, no ball was given away cheaply, as they once again attacked the opposition line. With the forwards and backs linking beautifully they finally scored the try they fully deserved. Just the conversion to come. Kentish again struck the ball superbly to bisect the posts.
Although there were a couple of minutes left, Saints duly held on for an invaluable four points.
Jack Ransome was deservedly named Man of the Match for his insatiable appetite for tackling and ball carrying throughout.
St Albans: Kentish, Satchell, Lane, Sharp, Dickinson, Alderton, Howard; Edwards, Lemiere, Weldon, Hillier, Huddleston, Styles, Ransome, Scanlan.Reps: Mineikis, Morete, Andrews.