Waters holds his nerve to earn Cents’ first point

Sam Bucknall completes his hat-trick. Picture: Darryl Brown

Sam Bucknall completes his hat-trick. Picture: Darryl Brown - Credit: Archant

Gareth Waters held his nerve to kick a last-gasp conversion, adding two points to a breathtaking try from Sam Bucknall, to earn St Albans Centurions a 30-all draw at Milton Keynes Black Nights.

In a game Cents never led in, Waters earned St Albans their first points of the East League season following a stunning run from Bucknall, who, receiving the ball 60 metres from the try-line, burst through two tackles and out-sprinted the covering defenders to set up the equalising kick.

After the game, Cents chairman Brian Parker said: “Another great fight back, just like last week. We started slowly and gained momentum as the game progressed.

“We are getting better each week and hopefully we can turn this season around. The weather restricted the game in the second half to a very physical one, but there is not one of those players you could pick out and say that they did not give 100 per cent.”

For all their effort in the early exchanges, Cents found themselves trailing after an interception was run back. Tim Rangihuna slipped in Bucknall for the first of his hat-trick of tries to level the game but Milton Keynes, aided by a number of non-decisions from the referee, clocked up three more scores.

Cents closed the gap to 20-12 when Rob Holbrook went over in the corner just before the break.

Half-time rain brought an end to Cents’ quick game as they instead opted for short passing and punishing hits. The new tactic paid dividends as Nick Woolley set up Rangihuna.

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The condensed game benefitted Knights’ bigger players and they barged over the line to extend their lead to 26-18. The advantage was kept intact by last-ditch defending as three times Cents were hauled down short of the line. On the third time the ball, though, was whipped out to Bucknall, who surged over.

Having reduced the deficit to two, the Knights extended it to six with their last try of the game. It looked to be enough to earn victory until Bucknall produced a moment of magic and Waters held his nerve to salvage a draw for Cents.