St Albans ready for derby after Island trip
EDF Senior Vase Third Round Mersea Island 19 St Albans 22 St Albans recorded the narrowest of victories away at Mersea Island as they progressed to the next round of the EDF Senior Vase. St Albans travelled to Mersea Island with a side showing eight chang
EDF Senior Vase Third Round
Mersea Island 19 St Albans 22
St Albans recorded the narrowest of victories away at Mersea Island as they progressed to the next round of the EDF Senior Vase. St Albans travelled to Mersea Island with a side showing eight changes from the one that defeated Harpenden the week before.
This was a first meeting between these clubs so St Albans did not know what to expect. Mersea had started the season strongly in London North East Three but had lost their last three games. As St Albans arrived it became clear that this would be a game of two halves with a cold, gale-force wind blowing down a considerable slope.
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St Albans got first use of the wind and slope but were slow to take full advantage as they needed to adapt to the much-changed side as well as the conditions. They were further disrupted when number eight Justin Joubert was forced to leave the field injured after only five minutes. However, they did settle down and started to exert pressure on the opposition. Tries followed for Tom Grover, Ed Coy and Joe Shaw and, in difficult winds, Mark Kentish did well to convert two. This gave St Albans a lead of 19-0 at half time but they were unsure whether it would be enough as they battled against the wind and the hill in the second half.
The Mersea Island captain was heard using harsh words at half time and his team started the second half in determined mood. However, their enthusiasm spilled over and they conceded an early penalty from which Kentish added three points, despite kicking into the wind. This was the decisive score as the rest of the half belonged to the home side. Using the wind and slope to full effect they gradually eroded St Albans' advantage. They also scored three tries, adding two conversions.
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St Albans had a three point lead with ten minutes to play but they were pinned inside their own half. To their credit, they showed great resolution and rebuffed the attacks. They also showed great discipline as they gave away no penalties to offer the chance to take the game into extra time.
St Albans can take great heart from a fine display by a side put together due to a host of injuries and unavailabilities. There are some players who may have even played themselves into a starting place for this week's clash with Tabard. A joint Man of the Match was awarded to Tom Grover and Andy Wheldon.
St Albans: Kentish, Coy, Shaw, Dickenson, Grover, Howard, Morete; Lemiere, Callan, Green, Lane, Davies, Stanford, Huddleston, Joubert (Wheldon 5). Subs: Davy, O'Shea, Elvy.