Sizzling Cents in fine form
RLC Premier Elmbridge 22 St Albans Centurions 46 ST Albans Centurions started their defence of the Southern Premiership League title with a convincing nine-try victory at Elmbridge RLFC on Saturday. On a baking hot afternoon, the Cents were in fine form.
Elmbridge 22 St Albans Centurions 46
ST Albans Centurions started their defence of the Southern Premiership League title with a convincing nine-try victory at Elmbridge RLFC on Saturday.
On a baking hot afternoon, the Cents were in fine form. Playing without internationals Oli Fountain and Paul Maloney, the St Albans side featured debutants Matt Spencer, signed from Hemel, and Aussie prop Al McCully, as well as teenagers Ross Dempsey, Pete Chapman, Craig Foster, Oli Meyers, Dave Hancock and Miles Dempsey, all of whom have come up through the Club's Junior ranks.
The Centurions dominated the first half, with Matt Spencer scoring his debut try after only six minutes when, after a good break by Richard Smith, the ball was moved left and Spencer went over in the corner. Craig Foster added the extra two points.
The Cents could have had two more but Pete Chapman had a try disallowed and then Shane Rampling failed to gather the ball after a great kick through from Kristian Warner.
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The impressive visitors soon stretched their lead when the Dempsey Brothers combined for a marvellous try with Miles Dempsey running fiercely before offloading to brother Ross who crashed through several would-be tacklers to claim the four points. Again Foster converted.
Elmbridge retaliated with a converted try after a kick and chase but on 25 minutes the Cents went 16-4 up. Strong running from Roy Dube and Miles Dempsey set up Shane Rampling who went over from the play-the-ball.
St Albans were now looking to be in complete control and five minutes later they went further ahead. Andy Lake and Pete Chapman combined and then an excellent 35-yard solo effort from Richard Smith saw him touch down in the left-hand corner. When Craig Foster converted from the touchline the Cents were well on top, going into half time with a 22-4 lead.
The second half started with Elmbridge attacking strongly and only good defensive work from Craig Foster and Chris True kept them out. Chris True was again involved when he and Ross Dempsey forced the Elmbridge winger into touch as he collected Kristian Warner's kick. From the resultant scrum, the Centurions got possession and centre Andy Milson scored.
Two more tries followed quickly. Nick Surtees made a powerful run and slipped the ball to loose forward Miles Dempsey to score under the posts. Moments later brother Ross Dempsey grabbed his second try of the afternoon after another Surtees break.
Elmbridge were still determined to make a game of it and a converted try under the posts brought the score back to 34-10.
The Centurions hit back with some good rugby from their young three-quarters. Oli Meyers made a great break, splitting the Elmbridge defence wide open before the ball went out to Foster, on to Dempsey and then Chapman who still had plenty to do before touching down. Foster added the goal.
A terrible defensive mix up let in Elmbridge to score another, hacking through on the last tackle but Cents had the final say. Andy Lake powered his way over the line to score after yet more powerful running from Nick Surtees and Craig Foster added the extras to make the final score 46-22.
On Saturday, St Albans Centurions are at home to South London Storm in a repeat of last year's Grand Final. Kick off at the Recreation Ground, Colney Heath, is at 2.30pm.
St Albans Centurions: Foster, True, R. Dempsey, Milson, Chapman, Rampling, Warner, Lake, Smith, McCully, Surtees, Spencer, M. Dempsey, Dube, Meyers, Weldon, Hancock.