Weakened Cents lose out to league leaders

International call-ups and work commitments hinder Cents

RLC Southern Premiership

Hammersmith Hoists 32 St Albans Centurions 12

“YOU don’t travel to the league leaders with six first teamers missing and expect an easy game.” These words from player/coach Shane Rampling proved all too true when St Albans Centurions visited league leaders Hammersmith Hoists on Saturday. With two players on international duty, two players who work for the emergency services unable to get time off and two players out injured it was never going to be an easy game.

It was almost a replay of the last time these two teams met when straight from the kick off the Londoners hit the Cents at full speed with quick play the balls and inside passes for their runners to break down a slow St Albans defence. Just like the previous encounter the Hoists ran in three unanswered tries and two conversions inside 20 minutes, against a St Albans side who were still trying to get organised.

St Albans shook themselves awake and began to settle and play some good rugby. Cents pressure caused the Londoners to give away two consecutive penalties for offside, and on the second of these prop forward Daniel Blinkhorn used his strength and size to punch a hole through the Hammersmith defence and go over for a try. The game was starting to swing towards St Albans, and on several occasions the Cents were held up either on or just short of the line. It was unfortunate that the half time whistle blew just as the Cents were in the ascendancy, with the score at 16-4.

The half time break certainly favoured the Hammersmith side more than the St Albans boys, and when the game restarted St Albans were slow to get going. The hosts capitalised on some weak Cents defending running in three more tries making the score 32-4 with 20 minutes left. Far from letting their heads drop, the Cents began to up their game and put pressure on the home team. Scrum-half Mike Wade put a kick through on the last tackle and Oli Fountain, playing in the unfamiliar position of full-back, left the Hoists players in his wake as he chased the ball down, collected it and sprinted in for a try. With regular kicker David Kramer out injured, the conversion from the touch line was missed. There then followed a period of St Albans dominance when both prop Keir Bell and winger Gareth Waters were stopped within inches of the try line. Following continued Cents pressure, Hammersmith were left reeling when they gave away three penalties for offside in succession and a quick tap, followed by quick hands sent the ball out wide for Nick Woolly to score in the corner. With the score at 32-12, the game ended with St Albans players Ewan Drummond, then Gareth Water both being bundled into touch by the try line flag.

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After the game player/coach Rampling said: “To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. We have been training all week for this match and we had a game plan, but it seemed to go out of the window for periods of this game. The Hammersmith team are a very slick outfit, very fit and very fast. They pressurised us from the start, and when we had the try line in our sights, they somehow managed to keep us out. Hopefully next week we will have a full squad and get back to winning ways.”

The Centurions are at home on Saturday 2nd July when they play West London Sharks at their Toulmin Drive ground. Kick off 2.30pm.