St Albans maintain winning start
London 2 North West
London 2 North West
St Albans 12 Welwyn 0
ST ALBANS continued their impressive start to the season with a hard fought victory over local rivals Welwyn on Saturday.
After the try fest of the previous week, Saints were in confident mood, but found the away side’s defence far stronger than last week’s combatants.
The game started brightly enough with some quality rugby on show. The Saints backs looked dangerous with stand-off Charlie Howard and centre Gareth Lane making some incisive breaks. Indeed on a couple of occasions they seemed more likely to score than not. But after some sublime build up play the final pass would not go to hand.
They took the lead however after eight minutes with a well struck penalty from full-back Mark Kentish. Shortly after, when another Saints attack broke down just short of the Welwyn line, there was a bit of ‘afters’. The referee saw fit to send Saints hooker Brenton Lemiere to the bin for 10 minutes to cool off.
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Welwyn duly looked at this period to make their numerical advantage tell. Solid defence and a scrum that was holding its own with only seven men meant the visitors’ attacks were rebuffed. Indeed a Saints foray into opposition territory yielded a kickable penalty and Kentish stepped up to double their lead.
It was during the latter part of the first half that the game began to disappoint as a spectacle. With the referee blowing his whistle with increasing regularity, neither side seemed able to settle into a pattern, play became dis-jointed and mistakes followed. St Albans had become frustrated by their failure to score the early tries on offer and the tension of the local derby seemed to affect both sides.
The second half saw Saints continue to dominate in the scrum. Weldon, Lemiere and Edwards led from the front row and the back five provided both drive and guile.
Kentish then struck a post with his third shot at goal, the ball dropping right in front of the posts. It looked as if it would fall into any number of the St Albans attackers hands, but the bounce favoured the Welwyn defence. They broke away and with a clever kick ahead found themselves in the home side’s 22. Some excellent scramble defence saved the day for Saints.
When Kentish struck again St Albans had a nine-point cushion that allowed them to relax a little. But to their credit Welwyn refused to crumble and it was not until the last play of the game that Kentish sealed victory with his fourth penalty.
The coaching team were pleased with the application the side had shown, the concentration in defence having shutout the visitors, but would look to re-ignite the cutting edge in attack when they travel to newly promoted West London next week.
Lemiere was named Man of the Match but a special award was presented to wing Ed Coy who announced his retirement to pursue other interests. He will be sorely missed but St Albans RFC thank him for all the years service, both on the pitch and in the bar, he has given them.
St Albans: Kentish, Coy, Lane, Morete, Dickinsons, Howard, Trude; Edwards, Lemiere, Weldon, Styles, Sayers, Weedon, Callan, Scanlan. Reps: Borschman, Hillier, J Hissey.