St Albans Centurions play their biggest game in their eight year history on Sunday when they travel to Warrington to face Woolston Rovers in the National League Three play-offs. A win will take the Cents to Bradford in the final eliminator against Dudley Hill for the right to face Teesside Steelers in the Grand Final. Defeat will end their season.
Saturday's 20-8 win over Sheffield Hillsborough Hawks in the first round of the play-offs underlined St Albans' quality and puts them in a confident mood for the long trip to Cheshire.
"The boys stuck at it on Saturday and full deserved the win," said Centurions spokesman Gavin Willacy. "Now we have the chance to gain revenge on Woolston, who turned us over 46-10 in the second game of the season. But we've played 13 games since then and have improved enormously. There's no doubt we can win if we play to the best of our ability. We have some quality players and a lot of heart."
The Centurions have certainly proved they are in the top four teams in this league, having beaten everyone below them in the final table. The only teams they haven't beaten are the three that finished above them - and they will have to change all that if they are to lift the NL3 title. The next step in that quest will take place at Wilderspool, home of Warrington Wolves, which is to close this autumn when Wolves move to a new stadium.
"It's a huge game for us but the stage is set," said Willacy. "It's a fabulous chance to play at a Super League stadium and on the ground where Brian Bevan smashed all the world records for try-scoring and where so many great British players, like Jonathan Davies, Iestyn Harris and Paul Sculthorpe, have performed over the last 100 years. Let's hope we can take away some precious memories."
Woolston finished third in the league and scraped past Huddersfield Underbank in the play-offs last Saturday. They have produced international players Mike Wainwright (Scotland), Chris Morley (Wales) and MarkForster (Ireland) in recent years and have a rich 43-year history. They moved into Wilderspool when their Bennett's Recreation Ground home was burnt down by vandals last October.
The Centurions' Aussie contingent will be hoping to match the Kangaroos who beat Great Britain 15-5 at Wilderspool 30 years ago That game was played in December on ice: it's going to be rather warmer at kick-off - 4pm - on Sunday. Wilderspool also hosted two England Internationals: wins over Wales in 1975 and France four years later.
CENTURIONS are running a coach to Warrington for the 4pm kick off - the game put back because of an Under-21 Play-Off tie featuring Warrington Wolves. The coach will leave Woollams on Harpenden Road at 10am prompt. Meet at 9.30am. Call Gavin Willacy on 07796 442041 or email email@example.com if you are interested in travelling. Seats are ?10 for fansLike