St Albans Centurions set to face off against rivals Hemel Stags

St ALBANS Centurions will travel to take on near-neighbours Hemel Stags on Sunday. Here, we preview the mouth-watering clash...

The Cents take on their fierce local rivals for the first time in a competitive match since 2006.

The two Hertfordshire rivals last met in a pre-season friendly on April 1, when The Stags beat The Cents 18-6 over 80 minutes in a game the St Albans club could have won had it not been for a little rustiness and a couple of lapses in concentration.

We spoke to a couple of the Cents at training this week about the upcoming game.

First, team captain Andy Lake: “The break has done us some good, it has allowed the players that have picked up small knocks to recouperate and rest there bodies.

“We have had the opportunity to reflect on the competetion so far and plan the rest of the season now we know the standard of the league.

“This weekend sees us travelling the shortest distance of the season to the other side of the M1 to face our local rivals Hemel Stags.

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“Normally a hotly contended fixture but more so this year as it is the first time we have played them in competition since 2006.

“Other than the home game at ours, this is obviously a game we want to win as this will be the last time our two open age group 1st teams meet as Hemel Stags will be moving into the semi pro Championship 1 Competition next season.

“It will be a hard an exciting game with players ready to go after a week off.”

“We are a much better side now than we were when we played Hemel in pre-season,” said Centre Sam Norris.

“Although every game is important, this is the one we all really want to win.

“I have only ever been involved in one victory against them, a mid-week A Team game in the merit league, so on a personal level, I can’t wait for Sunday and I know the rest of the boys are exactly the same.”

The Cents will have to be at their best to win this game, as Hemel are favourites to top the league this year, and have had a great start to what is their last year in the National Conference League before they move up to the semi-professional Championship One in 2013.

Hemel have only lost one game so far this season, a narrow 18-16 away defeat to Nottingham Outlaws, but that seems to have been simply a blip as the Stags have also overturned last years champions Huddersfield Underbank Rangers, and high flyers Warrington Wizards.

On the flip side, The Cents have managed just one win so far, at home to Kippax Knights, and have struggled a little on the road.

“We know we go into the game as definite underdogs,” added Norris.

“But I know the rest of the boys don’t see it like that. Whenever we take to the field, we never think we are going to lose, we just put all our efforts into taking maximum points, and it will be no different on Sunday.

“If anything, we will want it more!”

Sunday’s game kicks off at 2.30pm at Hemel’s Pennine Way ground, where Pimm’s are sponsoring a picnic and BBQ event.

Entry is �4, so come down and support The Cents and enjoy a burger and a beer in the sun!