Slideshow: Classy Cents storm to victory

RLC Southern Premier St Albans Centurions 32 South London Storm 12 SOUTH African winger Jacques Steinberg grabbed a hat trick of tries on his debut as St Albans Centurions cruised to a 32–12 win against South London Storm at Colney Heath on Saturday.

RLC Southern Premier

St Albans Centurions 32 South London Storm 12

SOUTH African winger Jacques Steinberg grabbed a hat trick of tries on his debut as St Albans Centurions cruised to a 32-12 win against South London Storm at Colney Heath on Saturday.

It was another dominant performance from the super Cents who have now won two out of two and are already setting the pace as they bid to retain their RLC Southern Premier championship title.

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With Shane Rampling playing at scrum half in place of Kristian Warner, out for at least six weeks with a neck injury, the St Albans side started well. Rampling cut through the Storm defence before passing to Jacques Steinberg, who gave the crowd a hint of what was to come when he showed his power and pace, crashing over the line but losing the ball in the process.

On 15 minutes it was Rampling again who slipped the ball out to speedster, Chris True. The elusive right winger sliced through the South London defence and when eventually tackled, offloaded the ball superbly to Ross Dempsey for the centre to round off a spectacular try. Jack Cornthwaite added the goal.

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Straight from the kick off the Centurions were unlucky when the referee controversially gave a knock on against Roy Dube, though the ball appeared to have come off the burly prop's legs. With possession from the scrum a few metres out, South London centre, Dave Melling grabbed a try, converted by Chris Beaven.

On 20 minutes Storm increased their lead, after the Centurions were penalised, when Beaven scored under the posts and added the extra two points himself.

The rest of the first half seemed to be a series of missed chances for Cents and they went in 6-12 down.

It was an entirely different story in the second period as the Centurions moved up a gear and ran in 26 unanswered points against a visibly tiring Storm. After only five minutes, Rudi van der Merwe intercepted deep in the St Albans half and set off on an electrifying run downfield. Tackled some 15 metres short by Ayres, the South London winger held on in the tackle and was sin binned for a professional foul. This was a significant turning point in the game as the Centurions ran in three tries in the space of just seven, breathtaking minutes.

From the penalty Matt Spencer, making a great impression in only his second game for the club, waltzed over for a well-deserved try. Almost immediately, a scintillating burst from Nick Surtees saw him pass to Shane Rampling to plunder four more points with full back Jack Cornthwaite converting both tries.

Then van der Merwe slipped the ball to Jacques Steinberg on the left flank and the winger was off on a 65 metre run, outpacing the cover defence for a glorious touch down.

Cents continued the onslaught even with the Storm back to full strength and on 70 minutes Paul Maloney, who was having another excellent game, set up Shane Rampling and after Surtees and van der Merwe combined, Steinberg charged in to score again in the left hand corner.

Steinberg's hat trick was a wonderfully worked, length of the field affair as van der Merwe gathered the ball on his own line and showed tremendous speed as he cut through the South London ranks before combining superbly with Steinberg for him to notch up his third try of the afternoon. When Dave Hancock added the goal, it was 32-12 and the victory was complete.

Coach Rampling was delighted with his team's display. He said: "All in all it was a fantastic effort from all the boys. We scored some fantastic tries today. It was a tough, physical game as expected and we gave away too many penalties, especially in the first half. But in the second half our defence was much tighter and all our passes stuck. I'm very proud of the boys."

St Albans Centurions Development Squad completed a great afternoon as they beat South London Storm Seconds 16-14 in their first game of the season.

On Saturday, the Cents are away to Ipswich Rhinos, unbeaten in the league so far this season. Rampling said: "It's going to be a real test, but the boys are up for it. We're looking to make it three wins out of three."

Centurions: Cornthwaite, True, R. Dempsey, Steinberg, van der Merwe, Kellaway, Rampling, Dube, Smith, McCully, M. Dempsey, Spencer, Maloney, Surtees, Lye, Martell, Hancock.

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