Steinberg grabs five but Centurions charged by Rhinos

SOUTH African speed merchant Jacques Steinberg put in a five-star show but it was not enough for St Albans Centurions at Ipswich Rhinos on Saturday.

Rugby League Conference

Southern Premiership

Ipswich Rhinos 30 St Albans Centurions 26

SOUTH African speed merchant Jacques Steinberg put in a five-star show but it was not enough for St Albans Centurions at Ipswich Rhinos on Saturday.

In an enthralling match played in glorious Suffolk sunshine, it all came down to goal kicks as a relatively inexperienced St Albans side lost out to the unbeaten Rhinos, who managed to convert three of their six tries.

Ipswich started in fine form when scrum half, Kevin Cook, cut through to score with ease after only two minutes.

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The Cents hit back on 10 minutes when, after good work from Miles Dempsey, Shane Rampling sent the ball out left to Rudi van der Merwe, who dummied and created the gap for winger Jacques Steinberg to touch down in the corner.

Centurions fought hard to keep Ipswich out only to succumb when centre James Goldring went over for a try in the right hand corner. Moments later Ipswich increased their lead as full back, Trent Wilden grabbed an easy four points after St Albans had shown a lack of discipline and given away a silly penalty.

Simon Lye made a number of strong runs but the Cents were looking a little disjointed and the Rhinos were gaining the upper hand. Then, three minutes before half time, the Centurions grabbed two quick tries to level the scores. First, with the Rhinos threatening, long-serving prop, Roy Dube, intercepted on his own line and made a good break before offloading to Steinberg, who went the length of the field, outpacing the opposition, to score. Straight from the kick off, Ipswich tried an adventurous short kick, which went spectacularly wrong and centre Rudi van der Merwe gathered and sprinted unopposed to touch down under the posts. When Craig Foster converted the Cents were perhaps fortunate to be level at 14-14.

St Albans started the second half strongly with imaginative play from debutant Angus Simpson, Al McCully and Miles Dempsey but on 50 minutes it was the magical partnership down the left flank that was to pay dividends as van der Merwe passed to Steinberg for him to complete his hat trick and put the Centurions ahead for the first time.

The lead did not last long as twice the Cents lost the ball in the tackle and twice they were punished as Trotter and Clasby scored for the Rhinos. Crucially, Pete Le Marquand converted both tries.

The Cents hit back with a splendid try. Returning England International, Oli Fountain combined well with Chris True and Shane Rampling, who sent the ball wide to van der Merwe and then out to the impressive Steinberg for his fourth try.

Trailing by 26-22, the Centurions were not going to give up their unbeaten record without making a fight of it. Substitute, Jamie Molloy pulled off a great try-saving tackle but sadly conceded a penalty and from the resulting possession, Ipswich hooker Lee Clasby grabbed his second try of the afternoon to put the Rhinos eight points ahead with 15 minutes to play.

Shane Rampling, Chris True and Oli Fountain with a great step and run, all threatened the Ipswich line but poor handling was letting the Cents down.

With the seconds ticking away, Cents mounted further pressure and with only three minutes left on the clock Steinberg plundered another four points after an offload from van der Merwe.

Steinberg very nearly grabbed an outrageous victory, chasing his own kick deep into the Ipswich half but a fairy tale ending was not to be and when the whistle went the Rhinos had secured a 30-26 win to remain unbeaten in the league. Centurions Player/Coach, Shane Rampling was not too downhearted. He said: "With a lot of players unavailable, we had a very inexperienced side out. On a plus, Simon Lye was our most devastating forward, young Angus Simpson had a very good first game at hooker and there were outstanding games from Jacques and Rudi."

Next Saturday Centurions are away to West London Sharks and Rampling is ready for a tough challenge. He said "We're going to need a huge effort to get back on track but we'll have Paul Maloney, Richard Smith, Matt Spencer and Lewis Padmore back to beef up the pack. We're going to go down there and do the job."

Centurions: Fountain, True, Kellaway, van der Merwe, Steinberg, Rampling, Foster, Dube, Simpson, McCully, Lake, Milsom, M. Dempsey, Lye, Weldon, Molloy, Chapman.