Great support shown for Mark Trude
By Terry Evans
Saints and Barnet Elizabethans battle it out to an honourable draw, but extra time takes St. Albans to final!
St. Albans hosted Barnet Elizabethans in a “double-header” fixture that was both a Herts/Middx league game and the Hertfordshire RFU Presidents Trophy semi-final. It was also a special day to support Mark Trude, a former player of both clubs, and his battle against cancer. Prior to the game a lunch was held with the proceeds being donated to a Cancer Awareness charity of Mark’s choosing.
The game started with each side testing the others defence, the tackling was hard and for the first quarter neither could make any headway although Barnet Elizabethans did look the more dangerous.
This was to prove the case when after 22 minutes the visitors opened the scoring with a converted try. Saints, whose handling had been average at best, then struck back immediately with a trademark George Saunders try that was converted by George Elliott.
Barnet Elizabethans went straight back on the offensive and secured another try following a period of sustained pressure. St. Albans responded with a slick move from their backs that saw Adam Jasinski touch down and level the score at 12 – 12. Half time arrived with the honours even.
After the break Barnet Elizabethans stepped up a gear and were rewarded with two converted try’s within the space of 6 minutes, giving them a heathy lead over St. Albans 12 -26.
The game could have gone away from Saints, but they showed resolve and switched their focus to a tighter forward game. In the set pieces, particularly the scrums, St. Albans began to dominate. This gave them the platform to pressurise the visitors and from this the excellent Shaun Rafter scored a converted try.
The St. Albans forwards were in the ascendency and another “pack” try quickly followed. Barnet Elizabethans rallied in a desperate effort to protect their slim lead, and as the minutes ticked by it looked as if they would do it.
Saints however were in no mood to let the chance slip; more forward pressure saw play driven deep into the visitor’s half and when Rafter went over for his second try it looked as the spoils were going to St. Albans 29 - 26.
With full time just seconds away Barnet Elizabethans were awarded a penalty and although a good way out, it was a kickable option. The visitor’s kicker, who had only missed once during the game, stepped up and slotted over the tricky kick. With that the referee blew the final whistle and that element of the game finished as a 29 – 29 draw.
However extra time was now required to decide who would go though to the final of the Herts Presidents Trophy.
Saints were not of the mind to lose out on a chance of some reward for a tough season, and with this driving them on they applied great pressure on a Barnet Elizabethans side that was finding the going hard.
A try in each half of extra time from Saints mercurial centre George Saunders was enough to win it for St. Albans as they ran out worthy victors 41 – 29 and booked their place in the final.
It was a great afternoon of exciting rugby, but it was also a chance for both clubs to show support to Mark Trude who has his own battle to fight. Mark we wish you well and hope that you can overcome this dreadful adversity.