Yet another narrow defeat for Centurions as North Herts take the derby spoils

Peter Wamamba Strain on his way to score his try. Picture: DARRYL BROWN

Peter Wamamba Strain on his way to score his try. Picture: DARRYL BROWN - Credit: Archant

St Albans Centurions suffered another narrow defeat – this time going down 24-22 on a baking hot day against North Herts Crusaders at Toulmin Drive.

It has been the story of their season that victories are just being missed by the odd point or try and this was no exception.

The heat meant that the game was played over four 20-minute quarters instead of two-40 minute halves.

Cents played two youngsters playing their first ever game of rugby league, and two more just playing their second game.

And it led to a disjointed start for Cents as the Crusaders ran in two tries, one of which was converted, inside the first 10 minutes.

The drinks break at the end of the first quarter brought no relief and another converted score stretched North Herts’ lead to 16.

But that seemed to stir the hosts and half-back Sam Allen jinked in from 30 yards for a now customary try, before prop Simba Mupamhanga charged through three defenders for a second try, this one converted by Allen.

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But any hopes of Cents completing a comeback were soon dashed as history repeated itself with two tries in the opening 10 minutes of the third quarter.

Neither were converted though and it meant St Albans were just about still in touch.

New signing, 17-year-old Peter Wamamba Strain from Beaumont School, ran in a great try from 40 yards, his speed and side-stepping ability making him far too elusive for any tacklers.

That was converted by the outstanding Allen, who picked up a cut to one eye and a bruise to the other after some hard North Herts tackles.

And when he crossed for another converted try with just five minutes remaining, there was just two points in it.

In injury time, after a great surge by St Albans, Allen was racing for the try-line when he was taken out with a stiff arm tackle around the head.

The defender was sin-binned but a groggy Allen was unable to land the ensuing penalty, the kick brushing the outside of the upright on its way through.

That was with seconds remaining and there was no time for St Albans to launch another attack as again they narrowly missed out on the win.

Centurions travel to Kings Lynn on Saturday to play the Black Knights in the semi-final of the East Rugby League Cup.