Elvers. In their next two matches they faced the leading clubs at this age group, and despite some excellent play, they were defeated 2-1 by Croydon Hurricanes and 3-0 Medway Dragons. Against the odds the team got back to form with a 4-0 victory over Richmond Warriors and ended the pool stage with a 4-1 victory over Elmbridge Eagles. The pool results meant that Cents progressed to the final to play Medway Dragons, but the Kent outfit proved too strong and ran out 3-0 victors and were deserved Champions.
Coach Craig Naylor commented, ’I am very pleased with the team and their great efforts throughout this festival. To reach the final at our first attempt is a reward for how hard the guys have trained and prepared. We were outdone in the final by a more experienced rugby league side but through the competition, we played some attractive attacking rugby and defended tenaciously. We now have two weeks to prepare for the next festival down at the Twickenham Stoop, and I am confident we can go that step further.’
There was another first at under 9s level when the Centurions had sufficient numbers to field two sides, the Warriors and Storm. Here again the competition was run as a six team pool with all sides playing each other once. The Warriors, coached by Andy Ralph were the first to play, coming up against Southend Spartans and going down 4-1. The next three games were against formidable opposition and despite no lack of skills and bravery, the side registered three defeats, Medway Dragons (3-0), Richmond Warriors (4-0) and Sussex Merlins (4-0). The Storm also started their campaign against the Spartans but they managed a late try to take the game 3-2. A similar fate fell them against the other three sides going down to Dragons (3-2), Richmond (4-2) and Merlins (4-0). The final pool game pitted Storm and Warriors together and it was a great advert for St Albans Minis, with skill, passion and great sportsmanship on show, the result 3-3 reflected well on the two sides. After the game, the St Albans squad were presented mementos of the day by London Broncos star Shane Rodney. The grand final was played out between Richmond and Sussex, the former being crowned champions after a 4-3 golden try victory.
Coach GARY TETLOW
reflected after the tournament, ‘Rugby League is a very unforgiving sport and when you are pitting very experienced sides against sides less so, it can be very tough. That said, the application, skill and bravery that was demonstrated by all our kids today just goes to show how well they are developing as players. Their confidence is growing each and every game. When the Warriors and Storm faced each other, and there was more parity between the sides, it was clear to see how far the boys and girls have advanced since their introduction to tackle 4 months ago. More players are joining us each week and as we build our squad the future is looking very bright.’
At the younger age group, Cents stars Niamh Kelly and Trystan Fleming joined their Hertfordshire friends, Hemel Stags, playing at under 7, but tackle, for the first time. The three way competition, featuring Medway Dragons and Elmbridge Eagles was a fantastic introduction for most of the players to contact and after close games, the Hertfordshire side came out on top as Champions.
Centurions Club Chairman, speaking about the Minis Festival, ‘It was wonderful today to see so many happy and enthusiastic children playing rugby league in St Albans. Thanks to the RFL the event ran very smoothly and also a big thanks you to London Broncos stars Shane Rodney and Lamont Bryan for coming to the event and giving out the medals. A last thanks you must be offered to the many parents of the minis who volunteered their time to set up our tented village and run it so well throughout the day, in spite of the heavy downpours, they all had an extra big smile on their faces.’