Saints pip Kiwis
London 2 North West
London 2 North West
St Albans 12 London New Zealand 10
ST ALBANS played their fourth league game of the season at Boggeymead Spring on Saturday and finished with a well deserved, albeit narrow, victory.
Saints had disappointed the previous week going down to a strong West London RFC side, their first defeat of the campaign.
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They were determined to put that behind them and started the game with an intensity clearly missing last weekend.
Although the home side were missing some key personnel, their replacements performed admirably, notably debutant hooker Rob Hume, wing Dan Satchell, making his first appeance for the Is this season and Jamie Hissey who got the train back from university to help Saints out.
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The early exchanges were quite even. The Kiwi’s had sent a side seemingly far better than in recent years and St Albans needed to be sharp in defence to counteract the visitors’ attacks. London New Zealand were the first team to put points on the board.
Saints were deemed to have gone offside at a ruck and the Kiwi wing slotted the penalty. Shortly after, the home side infringed again, but were astounded to see the referee going to his pocket. With Saints temporarily down to 14 men, things appeared dicey.
Soon after, Saints lost influential prop, Nathan Borschman to a knee injury. His replacement Simon Lee stepped up to the plate well and Saints continued to show the ascendancy in the set scrum.
These reverses seemed to galvanise Saints play and with strong running from their pack and astute tactical kicking from the half backs, Saints were able to assert territorial advantage.
In spite of being a man down, full back Mark Kentish was able to convert two penalties with customary ease.
Then, from successive indiscretions, two of the LNZ pack were shown yellow cards. With the visitors unable to field a second replacement in the front row, the referee was left with no option than to have uncontested scrums for the ensuing minutes and as often happens, the game seemed to stagnate.
Try as they might, St Albans were unable to get any real momentum and the half petered out with the home side leading just 6-3.
The second half became a much more open affair. Saints resumed with their scrum continuing to dominate. However, the constant drizzle seemed to negate any quality handling from the backs, where they struggled to get any decent ball out wide. There were enough breaks around the fringes to suggest a try would soon come but it wasn’t to be.
Kentish kicked another two penalties to show how valuable a member of the side he is, his strike rate being well over 80 per cent thus far.
London New Zealand had chances too. missing with a couple of long range attempts, but at 12-3 going into time added on Saints looked to have won comfortably enough. However with the last play of the game Saints appeared to switch off allowing the visitors a consolation try and gifting them a bonus point.
Saints captain Dave Callan was pleased overall with his sides application and commitment throughout.
The coaching staff will look this week to get the interplay between backs and forwards gelling more fluently, hopefully to score more tries. They have a diificult away trip to Hampstead to negotiate.
Saints Man of the Match this week was prop Andy Weldon, who played his most impressive game ever, both in the loose and the tight, in a St. Albans shirt.
Saints: Kentish, J Hissey, Lane, Morete, Satchell, Alderton, Trude; Weldon, Hume, Borschman, Sayers, Styles, Weedon, Callan, Scanlan. Reps - Lee, Stanford, P Hissey.