St Albans boost safety battle with fine Hitchin win

St Albans RFC vs Hitchin RFC. Picture: KEVIN LINES

St Albans RFC vs Hitchin RFC. Picture: KEVIN LINES - Credit: Archant

St Albans gave their battle to avoid the drop from London north West Three a huge lift with a 25-7 victory over a ponderous Hitchin at Boggymead.

The victory, which came complete with a bonus point, moves the Saints up to ninth, four points clear of Old Merchant Taylors’ in the final relegation spot.

Joe Shaw and Sean Phimister-Tribbick both scored twice with Harrison Wells adding five points with the boot.

Saints looked bright from the outset and took the game to the visitors.

However, their progress was hampered by the loss of fly-half Chris Jones to an arm injury, Ollie Fountain taking on the 10 role.

But the home side kept up the pressure and were rewarded when Wells knocked over a penalty.

They followed that up with Phimister-Tribbick getting his first, outpacing the defence to touch down close to the posts after the ball had been shipped along the full width of the backline. Reed added the conversion to give them a 10-point half-time lead.

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St Albans started the second half with a period of pressure and after Hitchin were penalised close to their line, their pack drove a scrum over, Shaw getting the final touch.

A yellow card to prop Mike Bennet gave Hitchin an opportunity to fight back, an opportunity they took with a converted score.

With Bennet reinstated to the field, the pendulum swung back the way of Saints and another fine piece of forward play allowed Shaw to crash over for his second.

The conversion was missed but St Albans carried on in the ascendancy and got their just desserts with Phimister-Tribbick collecting a long Ollie Fountain pass.

It was a fine display from St Albans which will stand them in good stead when they travel to Cheshunt in their next League fixture on February 11.

n The second team were also celebrating after a 41-15 success at Old Albanian Grizzlies in a top versus second clash in Merit Table Six.

OAs struck early through a penalty in front of the posts before some dazzling Ed Coy footwork brought up the Saints’ first try. James Thompson converted.

Gregor McKay added number two, his first try for the club, before Coy got his second of the afternoon. Both conversions were missed.

A yellow card to St Albans’ Paul Randall saw the fly-half spend 10 minutes in the bin and the Grizzlies took the chance to reduce the deficit at half-time to 17-8.

Replacement Bill Harris crossed in the corner early in the second half before a converted Grizzlies score made it 22-15.

However, the Saints turned it up a gear at this point and sealed a comprehensive win with three quick-fire tries through new Kiwi Riki, centre Dom Boost and stalwart Mark Davies.

Thompson converted two to complete the scoring.

The win leaves St Albans top of the tree, six points clear of a chasing pack led by OAs.