Tigers tamed by Centurions
Bedford Tigers 17 St Albans Centurions 52 ST Albans Centurions made their way up the A1 to Bedfordshire to take on Bedford Tigers in their last game of the regular season. The Cents fielded just eight of the 18 players from the team that defeated the Tig
Bedford Tigers 17 St Albans Centurions 52
ST Albans Centurions made their way up the A1 to Bedfordshire to take on Bedford Tigers in their last game of the regular season.
The Cents fielded just eight of the 18 players from the team that defeated the Tigers in the opening game of the season and the Cents once again played a mixture of their young players alongside their 'old timers', and it worked.
Although win or lose the Cents would still remain in third position in the league, neither team was going to roll over and give the other an easy time of it.
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The first half was a disjointed affair with a high number of penalties and the game rarely flowed.
The Cents received the opening kick-off and props Joe Vassie and Roy Dube soon made inroads into the Tigers' defence.
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Good tackling from David Coyle and Vassie kept the Tigers hemmed in and on the next Cents' possession a smart pass from Johnno Elvin put speedy winger Andy John in for the opening score which he converted to give the Cents a 6-0 lead.
Straight from the kick-off, slick handling by Shane Rampling and Russ Kelleway appeared to put John in for a second try only for the referee to call a forward pass. A series of penalties saw the Tigers camped out on the Cents' line and their big men forced their way over for an unconverted try.
The Cents were soon back on the attack and some amazing footwork from Brett Welsh left several defenders in his wake as he scored under the posts to give John another easy conversion.
The Cents settled down to play some good rugby and a perfectly placed kick from Adam Kal allowed debutant Ben Hoyles the chance to show his speed but he just failed to get the touchdown.
The Tigers were under pressure though and quick passing from Westhead and Rampling allowed the ever reliable Andy Lake to ghost past the defence for a try which was easily converted by John to make the score 18-4.
Strong running by Lake and Joe Shaw put the Cents on the front foot from the kick-off and a neat pass from Angus Simpson allowed Kal to go over for another try, converted by John.
The Cents then went to sleep for the last couple of minutes of the first half and allowed the Tigers in for a converted try to make the half time score 24-10 to the Cents. A stern half-time team talk from coach Rampling saw a more focused Cents come out for the second half and a tremendous break by Joe Shaw saw him off-load to the supporting Elvin who wisely passed the ball to John on the halfway line who ran in for a converted try.
A brief surge from the Tigers got them into the Cents' 20 but good defending, particularly from Brant Allen, Kelleway and Fred Vassie, kept them at bay as they settled for a one-point drop goal.
The Cents were soon back on the attack and another 40-yard break from veteran prop Roy Dube put them in a great position and, from the next play, Welsh beat his defender to score a try with a three-man overlap outside him.
John, who was having a stormer, again converted to extend the Cents lead to 36-11.
The try of the game then followed as the running Rudi van der Merwe put Ben Hoyles into a gap and the winger outpaced the defence and off-loaded the ball inside to Kal who passed the ball to Sam Norris for the youngster's first try in Cents' colours to make the score 40-11.
The Cents were now playing some very good and disciplined rugby and the impressive Elvin, who never took a backwards step all game, went over for a try with Kal then showing great strength for another score.
A mis-tackle in defence following a dubious kick and chase from a Cents forward on the third tackle allowed the Tigers in for a converted try to make the score 48-17 but the defensive effort was beginning to tell on them and they resorted to the unusual practice of long kicks downfield.
Debutant winger Tom Driscoll and full back Norris, supported by young Jack Gow, dealt with these well and a scrum in the last minute allowed the Cents a final attacking opportunity and the versatile Simpson went over for a try to give the Cents a 10-try haul and, for the second successive game, over a half century of points.
Speaking after the game, coach Rampling, said: "It was good to give some of our emerging youngsters game time and I was particularly pleased that 18-year-old Tom Driscoll made his debut having trained with us since the ice and snow of February."
Brett Welsh was the Players' Player -of-the-Match.
Cents: Allen, John, Welsh, van der Merwe, Hoyles, Rampling, Simpson, Dube, Westhead, J Vassie, Lake, Coyle, Elvin, Shaw, Gow, F Vassie, Norris, Driscoll, Hoyles, Kal.
Play-offs: The Centurions, third in the league, travel to the West London Sharks, second, on August 15 with the winners going through to the RLC Southern Premiership final.