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St Albans Centurions face a daunting trip to Bradford in the first round of the Powergen Rugby League Challenge Cup - but thankfully they will not be playing holders Bradford Bulls! Instead, the Woollams-based Cents will make their Challenge Cup debuts against Birkenshaw from the Pennine League Premier Division, on November 29, having received a bye in the Preliminary Round.
"It's a mixed draw for us," explained Gavin Willacy, the Centurions' director of media. "The bye gives our coach Peter Tonkin an extra two weeks to prepare the side but having to go up to Bradford is not ideal. We'd have loved to have brought a Challenge Cup tie to St Albans for the very first time - we'll just have to win and get a home draw in the Second Round instead!"
The Centurions, who finished fourth in the National League Three last season, have been in training for two weeks at Harpenden RFC, and will now schedule a friendly prior to the cup tie, possibly on Sunday November 16 against fellow NL3 side South London Storm. Birkenshaw will be three months into their league season, the Pennine League playing from August to April, and therefore should be at peak fitness. But Tonkin has been impressed by several new faces at training and intends making a handful of signings before the Centurions make their historic Powergen RL Challenge Cup bow.
Potential players are welcome at training on Mondays and Wednesdays at Harpenden RFC on Redbourn Road at 7.30pm.