Gallery: Champions beat St Albans
St Albans 11 Stevenage Town 43 The champions ensured they went through their entire London Three North West campaign unbeaten. After a customary jittery start, Town put on another exhilarating performance to run out convincing winners in their final game
St Albans 11 Stevenage Town 43
The champions ensured they went through their entire London Three North West campaign unbeaten.
After a customary jittery start, Town put on another exhilarating performance to run out convincing winners in their final game of the season.
And their league record of 21 wins and one draw puts them in fourth place nationally in terms of the percentage of league points accumulated.
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Town again found themselves having to come from behind as St Albans had the better of the exchanges in the first 20 minutes, managing to kick one penalty and missing two others.
But there was never any doubt from the moment Ian Crompton opened the scoring with the first of seven tries for the champs by running in under the posts from 60 yards. Gareth Lewis converted.
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Stags extended their lead on the half hour. An excellent move from a lineout involving Phil Pearson, Gareth Roberts, Gareth Wall and then Roberts again, ended with the number eight scoring his 25th try of the season.
By now, Town were well on top and denied St Albans the possession that they enjoyed in the first quarter of the match.
As on so many occasions this season, the front row of Barry Cook, Tavita Faamausili and captain Neil Bamber dominated the scrums. The second row of Adam Amos, playing with a broken hand, and Richard Penny has been outstanding all season and this performance was no exception.
With the front five controlling the forward exchanges, Town were in complete control. The difference between the two sides was that Town converted their possession into points.
The Stevenage backs, with Gary Trewartha solid in defence and starting off several attacking moves, used their pace to extend the St Albans defence and Town always looked threatening from open play.
Forwards and backs combined to score the third Stevenage try when winger Michael Wilson made an excellent break before being forced into touch.
From the resultant lineout, Town turned over the ball and Cook made a powerful drive for the line, which was finished off by hooker Faamausili.
With three minutes to go before half-time, the home time gave themselves some hope by converting a second penalty but there was still time for Town to score again before the interval.
From another lineout, Town worked the ball at the front and Roberts put in Faamausili to score his fifth try in as many matches and his 10th of the season as Stags led 22-6.
After the interval, Town reasserted their control up front with Iain Penny, who has had another excellent season, prominent in the loose play.
It came as no surprise when Town further extended their lead in the 55th minute from yet another lineout. This time, Roberts drove infield before passing to Alex Willcox who broke through the cover defence to score his first try of the season. Lewis converted.
Immediately from the St Albans kick-off, Lewis made an excellent break running the ball back at the home team before being tackled short of the line. He popped the ball up to Kyle Lemon who scored under the posts. Lewis converted.
With 15 minutes to go, St Albans were rewarded for their hard work and determination when their number eight finished off a well-worked move to score.
Coach Terry Penny made three changes bringing on Ben Tranter, Rob Carter and Kris Foskett.
Tranter, in particular, has been a stalwart of this side this season providing regular back-up on the bench even though he has had limited opportunities.
Having opened the scoring it was left to Crompton to complete it with his 27th try of the season. Willcox made another good break before feeding the winger who had a man to beat before diving into the corner. Lewis converted.
Afterwards, coach Penny was justifiably proud of his team's achievements this season and he was quick to point out that it was a real team effort and he described all his players as "heroes".
Town's unbeaten league record has been built on a dominant pack, sound defence and pace in the backs that has often left defences floundering.
Stags will now take the summer to prepare for the bigger challenges ahead in London Two North next season.