St Albans Centurions 0 -v- 56 Hemel Hempstead Stags
"We have no excuses" said St Albans Centurions team manager Tony Bottomley after Saturdays mauling by local rivals and top of the table Hemel Stags. "We had seven first team players unavailable due to work, injury and holidays, and the team we put out just could not match a well drilled Hemel side that cut our defence to ribbons. But as I said, no excuses, they can only play the team we put on the pitch, and we just didn't have our game heads on. What is annoying is that almost all Hemels tries came off Centurions giving away penalties for high tackles and interference at the play the ball. We have to learn from this defeat."
Hemel were on the score board after six minutes, when they went blind from a scrum and quick hands saw the Stags backs run through the Centurions defence. From the kick off Cents lost the ball and then gave away a penalty for a high tackle and once again the Hemel back row went over in the corner. St Albans suffered a set back when their inspirational captain and leader on the field Andy Lake suffered a severe migrane after a high tackle and had to leave the field and did not return. All through the first half it continued to be the same story. St Albans giving away silly penalties and the Stags gaining ground and scoring on the back of them. The half ended with visitors leading thirtytwo points to nil.
The second half started just as badly for the St Albans team, when they received the ball and almost immediately threw a forward pass, and from the scrum Hemel went in for another try, followed by a second three minutes later. As if things could not get any worse, the Centurions lost their prop forward Mike Hollister when he was red carded for violent conduct. Hemel did not have it all their own way, there were periods when St Albans played good rugby and pushed Hemel back, and they did have numerous attempts to score, but every time they were near the Stags try line, they were kept out by Hemels very strong defensive line. A very tied St Albans outfit allowed the visitors to run in another 3 tries in the last ten minutes of the game.
Next week St Albans face another semi-pro side when they play second place Warrington Wizards at their Toulmin Drive ground. Kick off 2.30pm.