Although the first team had the Bank Holiday Weekend off, St Albans Centurions were still in action when their newly-formed Under-16 team pulled off another fine victory, winning 30-20 at Greenwich Admirals. The side, which was only formed this month by former first team skipper Lee Parkin, has done so well in its two matches - they hammered Essex Eels in their debut match a week earlier - that scouts from Super League club London Broncos are taking a very keen interest in several players.
The victory came with two breakaway tries from Oliver Fountain, who was almost unstoppable with the ball and fearless in defence, one from winger Daniel Lipman, another from captain David Nelmes, who also kicked three conversions.
"It was another good win, especially with our first choice props unavailable," said Parkin, whose Rickmansworth School side reached the National Rugby League Schools Cup semi-finals earlier this year . "Greenwich were a good, well-drilled side with many South of England rep players and a few Broncos Under-16s so it was always going to be cracking encounter. Alex Martin moved up from second row and did a sterling job. I lost count of the number hit ups and tackles he made - he was easily man of the match."
Parkin was also delighted with the debuts of the Ravalia twins - Rishi and Rajiv - the Centurions' version of the Paul Brothers (Henry and Robbie), Chris "Chubbs" Michalak's debut performance at hooker and Tom Matthews' display, playing out of position at full back. Also impressive were Ross "Buzz" McCann, who distributed well from dummy half, and Jack Mayling who marshalled his forwards well.
"we gave away some silly penalties which allowed Greenwich to score some well taken scores and they battled hard," admitted Yorkshireman Parkin, who was on the books of Wakefield Trinity as a junior. "I can honestly say, that is the best game of junior rugby league I have seen in the south of England. It looks like being a very healthy future for the Centurions with some real quality players coming through, some with several years experience of rugby league."
Seven different Hertfordshire schools were represented on Saturday with many of Parkin's National Cup semi-finalists Rickmansworth School joined by boys from Beaumont, Parmiters, Watford Grammar, St Columbas College and, most notably given that the Centurions play at Old Albanians' Woollams ground, St Albans School. Many of the Young Centurions are rugby union players who are trying their hand at League and improving their handling skills, tackling technique and fitness levels in the off-season. Union clubs Fullerians, London Welsh, Saracens, Camelot and Cheshunt all have players learning League with the Centurions.
Parkin is now working with RFL regional development officer Caro Wild and England Under-16s coach Dave Rotherham to stage a City v Country match at Woollams, featuring the best Young Centurions, London Broncos Under-16s, and any other highly talented players in London and the Home Counties. It would be a trial game for the Foundation Academy. He is also seeking sponsorship for the Centurions' junior section - interested parties should contact Lee on 07736313345, as should any potential new players for the Young Centurions.
Centurions Under-16s: 1. Tom Matthews 2. Rajiv Ravalia 3. Jamie Rowe 4. David Nelmes 5. Dan Lipman 6. Jack Mayling 7. Ross McCann 8. Alex Martin 9. Chris Michalak 10. William Freeston 11. Barney Lambe 12. Ross Katz 13. Oli Fountain Subs: 14. Tom Sherriff 15. Christian Evans 16. Nick Merritt 17. Emile Rheeder 18. Danny Greaves 19. Rishi Ravalia
THE CENTURIONS first team head up to the Midlands on Saturday hoping to add a second win to last week's victory over Huddersfield Underbank Rangers. But they face a Coventry Bears team that has won two of its three National League Three matches so far and is reigning RL Conference champions. The Centurions will take heart not only from their tough victory over Underbakj at Woollams but also the fact that Coventry struggled to beat South London, 20-14, in their last home game. The Bears, led by Ireland international Alan Robinson, are part of the Coventry Rugby Club which started life as a League club before switching to Union.
ST ALBANS CENTURIONS are looking for sponsors for their remaining home games, as well as individual player sponsorships. "We shall be announcing next week an exciting promotional package for our three successive home matches in June, starting on June 14 against South London at Woollams," said media officer Gavin Willacy. "We have a couple of match sponsorships still available but they are going fast." Contact Ken Edwards on 07976088255 for more information.