St Albans Centurions ease into Play-Off Final

Kramer scores hat-trick in semi-final demolition of Eastern Rhinos

RLC Southern Premiership Play-Off Semi-Final

St Albans Centurions 56 Eastern Rhinos 14

ST ALBANS Centurions secured their place in Rugby League’s Southern Premiership Grand Final with this resounding defeat of the Eastern Rhinos on Saturday.

St Albans were expecting a tight game having played the Rhinos last week in the last game of the current season, running out winners by just 12 points. Both teams were without several first team players - Cents were missing their two Internationals, Andy Lake and Matt Stringer who were representing their country, two players were out due to injury and two were on holiday while the Rhinos were without two of their forwards who had both broken ribs from the previous encounter with the Cents.

As if performing to a script, St Albans got off to their usual poor start when from a tap penalty Rhinos’ Jack Wiggins saw a gap in the Cents defence and got through to score the first converted try.

Fortunately for the St Albans team, the Rhinos knocked on in their next possession, and from the resultant scrum, the ball was streaked out to Cents centre Rudi van der Merwe who outpaced the Colchester defence and ran in a try from over 50 metres. David Kramer kicked the conversion and after 10 minutes it was 12 points apiece.

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The St Albans boys began to put some great rugby moves together and in the next 15 minute spell ran in three unanswered tries. First scrum-half Mike Wade kicked the ball on the fifth tackle, collected it and scored under the posts then it was prop forward Dylan Rampling’s turn to score as he demolished the defensive wall and crashed over the try line. The Cents were on a roll, and from a knock-on from their own 30 metre line, the visitors could only watch as loose forward Adam Kambouris sliced the defensive line and went in to score.

Full-back Kramer converted two of the three tries before one of the best tries of the game followed.

Starting in their own quarter, Kramer picked up a loose ball and drove it up field. When he was tackled winger Gareth Waters went from acting half for a further 20 metres, before offloading to player/coach Shane Rampling who advanced another 20 meters before he offloaded to the man who started it all, Kramer, who completed a memorable try. Kramer converted his own try to make the score at half time 28 points to six in Cents’ favour.

If the visitors thought that the Cents were going to sit back and defend their lead in the second half, they were in for a shock, because in a 10 minute spell the St Albans team ran in a further three tries.

From the kick off the Rhinos kicked the ball out on the full, and from the penalty the Cents forwards made good ground for three tackles before on the fourth, second rower Mike Hollister raced on to a flat ball and could not be stopped. Kramer converted.

Rhinos kicked off again and the ball bounced and found its way into touch. From their possession at the scrum, the visitors tried to go out wide with some expansive passes but Shane Rampling darted out and intercepted the ball and ran towards the Rhinos line. The Colchester boys were scrambling back against another Centurions onslaught when Kramer popped up and danced his way through to score another try. He then converted it.

The Rhinos were desperate to find a way through the solid Cents defence, and tried a short kick off. The Cents were ready for them and recovered the ball. On the back of more solid Cents forward play, up popped Kramer again, and this time it was speed that took him slicing through the visitors defence to score his hat-trick try in the corner.

Give the Eastern Rhinos full credit, rather than give in, they kept on attacking the St Albans line, and when Cents were penalised for not being square at the play the ball, Rhinos winger James Callan squeezed in at the corner.

With the score at 44-10 with 20 minutes to go, Cents could have been forgiven for easing off, but they began to up the pace, especially at play the balls. This resulted in Cents centre van der Merwe collecting the ball on his own 60 metre line and racing off, running through several tackles and scoring under the posts. Kramer increased his points total by kicking the conversion.

Loose forward Kambouris put the icing on the cake as he powered his way through a tiring Rhinos defence to score the Cents’ last try of the game, which was converted, as usual, by Kramer. The Rhinos came back at the home side and scored the last try of the game through Jack Wiggins but it was nothing more than a consolation try for the visitors.

Next Saturday the Rugby League Conference hold their finals at Hemel Rugby League Club in Pennine Way, Hemel Hempstead. The games are as follows - South Eastern Merit League - Hammersmith ‘A’ vs West Norfolk (KO 12 noon); RLC Eastern Division - Sudbury vs Bury St Edmunds (KO 1.30pm); RLC Southern Grand Final - St Albans Centurions vs Hammersmith Hoists (KO 3pm). The entrance fee is �4 for all three games.