Semi-final agony for St Albans Centurions

Jake McLoughlin is stopped by the North Herts' defence

Jake McLoughlin is stopped by the North Herts' defence - Credit: Archant

St Albans Centurions crashed out of the East Rugby League Shield with a 36-16 semi-final defeat to North Herts Crusaders.

Josh Lawrence is stopped short of the Crusaders' line

Josh Lawrence is stopped short of the Crusaders' line - Credit: Archant

Cents had defeated their Hertfordshire neighbours last week in a league game at Toulmin Drive.

But in this clash at Letchworth they found the Crusaders in a resurgent mood.

Myles Costello​, Joe Shaw and Nick Woolley all breached the home defence but it was not enough.

The game was won in the opening quarter with four tries giving North Herts a 22-0 lead after just 17 minutes.

Joe Shaw crosses for his try

Joe Shaw crosses for his try - Credit: Archant

Dropped balls and missed tackles were the main culprits because once they were eradicated, the game was a much more evenly-balanced contest.

Josh Lawrence and Shaw were both held up over the Crusaders’ try-line but Costello managed to get round the side of the defence to score five minutes before the break.

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They narrowed the gap further early in the second half when Shaw brushed off two defenders for an individual try that Woolley converted.

But Cents continued to be masters of their own downfall when a looped pass was picked off by the full-back for an easy score.

Woolley crossed for Saints’ last score as the game turned into a test of attrition.

And despite chances for Jake McLoughlin, Shaw and Lawrence, it was the hosts who grabbed the final tries of the day, twice going over in the last five minutes.

Cents’ team manager Tony Bottomley said: “I have said this week in and week out this season, our biggest problem is having to play a different squad of players each week as injuries bite deep. I’ve never known anything like it.

“We made almost two hundred tackles in this game, and a big well done goes out to Mike Hollister, Joe Shaw, Josh Lawrence, Jake McLoughlin and Joe Shaw who all made 20 plus tackles each.”

​Cents are next in action on July 2 when they face St Ives Roosters at home.