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An understrength Centurions side went down to a surprise 24-16 defeat at Bramley on Saturday. Missing ten first team squad members, Peter Tonkin was forced to play several players out of position and give call-ups to a clutch of second teamers, one of whom, Luke Baxter got a try. The others were both scored by Matt Thomas with emergency stand-off Aaron Kwong kicking two goals.
"We played some decent stuff at times but overall it was disappointing," said a furious coach Tonkin. "We lost it to two tries from knock-ons, both of which were obvious to the touch judges who were standing right next to them but the referee wouldn't speak to them. It's driving me mad. I've already spoken to the RFL about it and it keeps happening. The touch judges may as well not be there!"
Tonkin was also unhappy at having to take a totally different side up to Leeds than the one that destroyed Essex by a club record 106-0 the previous Saturday. With three Australian players on holiday, Alex Murphy (mouth) and Dene Miller (thumb) among those still injured and the London Skolars loanees returning to Wood Green -including try sensation Desi Kadima - the Centurions were looking thin on the ground.
Defeat at Bramley is no shame though and last Saturday was an historic one for St Albans to play against such a major name in the game. The West Leeds side thrashed Carlisle 72-0 seven days earlier and are rapidly improving in their first season back in the national league after a four year absence. Formed in 1879, the famous old club once attracted 12,600 to a game against Leeds at their old Barley Mow ground and can boast seven full internationals to have been capped while at the club.
However, after two away defeats sandwiching that Essex annihilation, the Cents remain secure in the top six with seven wins from ten games: a record at the halfway mark of NL3 that most fans, players and staff would have been happy with before the season kicked off.
RESERVES TAKE ON WIZARDS Unfortunately, the first team call-ups lead to the second team having to call off the RLC game with Birmingham at Woollams. The reserves return to action at Wolverhampton Wizards on Saturday in a game they must win to have a chance to reach the RLC Play-Offs.
SIZZLING SUMMER FEAST OF RUGBY LEAGUE St Albans Centurions return to Woollams on Saturday with the visit of Huddersfield Underbank Rangers, a tough opponent who have been in fine form of late. It is the ideal opportunity for St Albans to get back on track. Kick off on Harpenden Road is at 2.30pm with admission ?3 for adults, ?1 concessions.
There will be a feast of rugby league at Woollams on Saturday with three other games preceeding the big National League Three clash. The Young Cents will be in action at Under-13 and Under-15 level with the Centurion Women making their much-anticipated return to the field as the local lasses try their hand at the 13-a-side code again.
For more information visit www.stalbanscenturions.com