Stags will be out for revenge

PUBLISHED: 11:16 29 March 2007 | UPDATED: 11:43 06 May 2010

Stevenage Town skipper Neil Bamber

Stevenage Town skipper Neil Bamber

Stevenage Town 26 Old Albanian 18 Stevenage Town secured their place in the final of the Herts Presidents Cup for the second consecutive year in a thrilling semi-final clash against London One side Old Albanian. Stags outclassed their higher division opp

Stevenage Town 26 Old Albanian 18

Stevenage Town secured their place in the final of the Herts Presidents' Cup for the second consecutive year in a thrilling semi-final clash against London One side Old Albanian.

Stags outclassed their higher division opponents by scoring four tries to two in a scintillating encounter at North Road.

With holders Hertford winning the other semi against Bishop's Stortford, it sets up a mouthwatering rematch of last year's final.

The final at Croxley Green on Sunday, April 22, allows Stevenage the chance to avenge last year's defeat.

Stags will also hope to carry this form into their vital league match at runaway league leaders Ruislip this Saturday as they enter their final push for promotion to London Two North.

Old Albanian came into Sunday's cup tie sitting two divisions above Town but any thoughts of a mismatch were soon dispelled.

Despite missing the league's leading try scorer Gareth Roberts, Stags stamped their authority on the game.

In front of a large crowd, it was the visitors who drew first blood in the opening minutes of the match.

Albanians capitalised through their well-drilled rolling maul as they trundled their way over the line for the opening score.

The two points were added and the visitors seemed to think that they were in for an easy day at the office.

Stevenage, through their dominant pack, put Albanians under immense pressure in the scrum.

From a scrum 10 yards out, the Town pack turned the screw and marched the beleaguered Albanians pack backwards.

This gave the space that livewire Ian Crompton needed and the South East divisional under-20s player raced across the line to level the scores, with Gareth Lewis successfully adding the extra points.

Albanians reverted to type when they finished their second score with another well-executed rolling maul, that failed to be converted.

Town showed their class to the London One side as a typical break by centre Alex Wilcox allowed Lewis to latch on to the inside pass with some blistering pace.

With one man to beat, Lewis fed an inside pass to flying full-back Greg Salisbury that allowed him to canter over under the posts. He finished the move with a trademark dive and Lewis converted.

With the slope and the wind now at their backs, the Stevenage faithful on the sidelines were full of belief that an upset was on the cards.

Albanians though had come to spoil the party and a series of penalties conceded by the Stags due to ill-discipline enabled their fly-half to slot two penalties, taking them four points clear.

But then a speculative up and under from Albanians allowed full-back Salisbury to leap and climb higher than the attackers to claim the ball.

He made good ground before offloading to talismanic captain Neil Bamber who opted for route one as he bounced off the defenders to set up a ruck in good field position.

The ball was quickly spun wide and Lewis cut a sublime line off centre partner Wilcox to take him clear.

With one man to beat, an audacious sidestep allowed him to finish an excellent passage of play with a try under the sticks. And with the conversion a formality, Stevenage were now three points up.

A moment of inspiration from big second row Adam Amos put the tie beyond doubt.

Amos got the ball 30m out and a deceptive turn of pace took the big man away from the defenders and Stevenage eight points clear.

With time ticking away, Albanians started to show some of their London One class. It was time for resolute Town defence and there were some massive hits from Barry Cook, Gary Trewartha and Jordon Ross.


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