Tries galore in season opening loss for Centurions

Cents prop forward Simba Mupamhanga on his 60 metre break

Cents prop forward Simba Mupamhanga on his 60 metre break - Credit: Archant

St Albans Centurions’ first home game of the season was preceded by a presentation by Gavin Scott of a new strip to the team from their new main sponsors, Stowe Family Law.

Stowe family law managing partner Gavin Scott presents the new kit to Centurions captain George Stev

Stowe family law managing partner Gavin Scott presents the new kit to Centurions captain George Stevens - Credit: Archant

Unfortunately that’s where the good news ended, because, as chairman Brian Parker said after the game: “We crossed the try line 13 times. Four times we were held up, three tries were disallowed by the ref and we scored six times, once more that the opposition. Rugby league can be a cruel game at times.” Even though they were without coach Andy Lake who is recovering from surgery, and still missing several first team players through injury, St Albans made a great start.

On the second set of six, hooker George Stevens crossed the line but was unable to get the ball down, and was hauled back from across the try line by the St Ives defence.

Two minutes later winger Ashley Westhead jinked his way over for an unconverted try before Tim Rangihuna then scored for the home team which was again unconverted.

Joe Shaw crashed over for another try, only for the referee to disallow it as he didn’t see the ball grounded.

Prop forward Simba Mupamhanga made sure of the third Cents try as he proved to be unstoppable from 10 metres out.

Shaw then crossed the line for a second time, and again had what appeared to be a good try ruled out.

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Prop forward Mupamhanga again had the crowd on their feet as he showed a burst of speed that left several Roosters trailing in his wake, as he covered 60m before being dragged down in front of the posts.

Centurion Ross Thomas then went over for what appeared to be another try, only for the referee to rule it out.

St Ives recovered and slowly played themselves into the game.

They scored a converted try on the 30th minute before a second, converted try with minutes to go before half time.

St Ives were the first to score in the second half, when within minutes of the kick off they put away a third converted try.

On the 50 minute mark, Tim Rangihuna proved unstoppable from 30m out as he side-stepped his way past several defenders to score St Albans’ fourth unconverted try, followed five minutes later by his third try, this time converted by Tim Shire.

The visitors kept up the pressure on the Cents, which paid off in the 65th minute when they ran in a converted try to lead 24-22.

Cents thought they had it wrapped up when Rob Holbrooke took two defenders with him and crossed the try line besides the post, but once again the referee ruled a no try.

The Cents threw themselves at the St Ives line, and when it broke it was forward Sam Bucknall who powered his way through the Roosters defence to score.

This time the try was given and converted by Shire for 28-24.

It looked like a St Albans victory when Rangihuna caught the ball 30m out, jinked past several defenders then kicked ahead, chasing the ball into open space.

As the ball crossed the try line he dived to touch it down, only for the ball to take a cruel bounce out of his outstretched hands.

With five minutes left, the visitors upped their play and put the Cents under pressure.

With a couple of decisions going against them, the Cents were pushed back down the pitch and a St Ives player scooped up a loose ball to cross under the posts for 28-28 each. St Ives had not missed a conversion all game, and they slotted the ball over for the win.

The Cents face North Herts Crusaders on Saturday at Toulmin Drive in the East League Cup quarter-final. Kick off at 2.30pm.