St Albans power to derby victory over Harpenden
St Albans keep up unbeaten start to the season
London Two North West
St Albans 43 Harpenden 8
ST ALBANS kept up the pressure on early season pacesetters Stevenage Town with victory over local rivals Harpenden at Smallford on Saturday.
Having seen off Tabard last week with organised defence, more physicality and clinical finishing, St Albans were hoping to build on their winning start.
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Harpenden were in confident mood despite their opening result – a defeat to Stevenage - as they welcomed back a host of players.
However, it was St Albans who started the stronger gaining a penalty from the kick off. Dave Watkins was unable to slot the three points but this was the start of a sustained period of pressure that saw St Albans camped inside the Harpenden half.
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It quickly became clear that Harpenden were not going to be able to compete with the physicality of the St Albans players and domination soon occurred up front.
After 20 minutes and showing good patience St Albans put the power on at the scrum to drive over the try line and allow No. 8 Craig Huddlestone to touch down. Watkins added the conversion and St Albans led 7-0. Harpenden immediately reduced the deficit to four points with a penalty awarded straight from the restart.
This only served to galvanise St Albans and within minutes, multiple attacks and line breaks saw debutant and inside centre Ross Turnbull hold off the defenders to crash over the line. Again Watkins was successful with the conversion and the score read 14-3.
With four minutes left in the half, a cheeky chip and chase by fly-half Harry Trude followed by an offload to on rushing Craig Huddlestone, allowed the Saints’ No.8 to race to the line to score his second and St Albans’ third try which was again converted by Watkins.
Harpenden had the opportunity to reduce the gap between the two sides with a penalty late in the first half but the kick was off target.
The second half opened with strong Saints forward play leading to a slick backs move and Ed Coy, back from a year sabbatical, crossed over for the fourth try. St Albans now turned the screw determined to give Harpenden nothing and further pressure and strong running from both backs and forwards saw an offload from Trude to Mathew Huddlestone who barrelled over to make it 31-3 in Saints’ favour.
St Albans weren’t done and more forward pressure saw Brenton Lemere crash over for the sixth try 36-3.
Harpenden tried to apply some pressure to St Albans by throwing the ball as wide as possible as quickly as possible, but Saints were wise to their plan and strong tackling in midfield saw captain and centre Gareth Lane pick a loose pass and run the length of the field. Watkins converted to open up a 43-3 lead.
In the last two minutes of the game a yellow card reduced St Albans to 14 and despite what looked like crossing in midfield, Harpenden did manage to cross in the corner with the last play of the game.
Saints’ No.8 Craig Huddlestone was named Man of the Match.
St Albans 2nd XV also beat Harpenden with their own last minute try.