Sharks take a big bite out of the Centurions as St Albans lose first game of the season

Joe Baker was a try-scorer for St Albans Centurions for the second week running. Picture: DARRYL BRO

Joe Baker was a try-scorer for St Albans Centurions for the second week running. Picture: DARRYL BROWN - Credit: Archant

St Albans Centurions fell to their first East Rugby League defeat of the season as they lost 38-24 at Southend Sharks.

They had travelled to the Essex coast with a much-changed squad and it proved costly after a disastrous opening period.

But they managed to fight back and could have got something from the game only to concede again in the second half.

The start was as horrific as it possibly could have been.

Saints began sluggishly against the quick-moving Sharks and converted tries in the second and ninth minutes left the Hertfordshire outfit 12-0 down before they'd hardly had chance to draw breath.

But under Simba Mupamhanga's coaching, this side is nothing if not resilient.

Joe Baker grabbed a now customary try, going over in the 19th minute and then converted by Chad Turley, and even though the impressive Southend outfit scored again, tries from Tom Spratt and the excellent Godson Sado, both converted by Turley, saw the teams go into half-time level at 18-18.

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The start to the second-half was uncompromising with the teams battling hard for the upper hand.

And despite heroic performances from the likes of Baker, Spratt and Niall Braniff, each completing 17 bone-crunching tackles, it was the home team that broke free to score two tries, converting one of them.

For the Centurions to have any hope, they had to grab the next try and with less than 15 minutes to go on the clock they did just that.

It was Mupamhanga who got it, crossing the line in style and allowing Turley to add his fourth conversion of the match.

All that momentum was lost, however, when the Sharks got their sixth try of the match and a seventh score against a rapidly-tiring Centurions side finished the game off.

But both coach and manager took heart from this battling defeat.

Mupamhanga believed the young lads making their debuts "had genuine raw potential and will quickly improve over the next few weeks" while Tony Bottomley has particular praise for Isaac Lee, calling him an "excellent loose forward who impressed against a very good Sharks team".

The Centurions go to Bedford Tigers in the cup on Saturday.