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Honor James

European Championship B - Match 3: Russia v Serbia

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The undefeated sides in European Championship B meet in Naro-Fominsk on Saturday, after both Serbia and Russia beat newcomers Ukraine in their opening matches.


Hosts Russia will be confident after a Russia Select XIII defeated the touring Midlands Lionhearts 60-16 last weekend.


“We’ve had two training sessions as a team after the Lionhearts tour,” said Russian rugby league (ARLK) president Edgard Taturyan. “All our players are preparing very seriously to face Serbia.”


“Head coach Igor Ovchinnikov has looked at some younger players and I have no doubt he will pick the right team.” 


Ovchinnikov has named centre Petr Botnarash, who scored a hat-trick against Serbia in the world cup qualifier in 2011, and recalls talismanic play-maker Alex Lysokon, who missed the Ukraine match through injury, in a strong 20-man group.


Serbia, who lost by a point, 21-20, in Russia in 2012, have prepared with a match against Serbia U20, winning 40-0.


Head coach Marko Janković has picked an experienced side that will be stronger still through the return of front row Dejan Lukenic, but Serbia has not beaten Russia in five previous attempts.


“Although there is respect, the rivalry between Serbia and Russia is already well known in the world of rugby league,” said the former army officer.


“Our preparation went well, we know what to expect in Russia and when the match begins.”


The match kicks off at 5pm at Naro-Fominsk’s SK Nara Stadium.



Petr Botnarash (Fili, RU), Artem Grigoryan, Ruslan Izmailov, Kirill Kosharin, Mikhail Nisiforov, Roman Ovchinnikov, Andrey Zdobnikov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Dmitriy Bratko, Vadim Fedchuk, Konstantin Rostchin (Storm), Rustam Bulanov, Mikhail Burlutskiy, Sergey Gaponov, Anatoly Grigorev, Sergey Konstantinov, Aleksandr Lysokon, Alexey Nikolaev, Eduard Ososkov, Maksim Suchkov, Denis Tiulenev, Vladimir Vlasyuk (Vereya)



Marko Ćuk, Dejan Lukenić, Stefan Nedeljković, Dalibor Samardžić, Stevan Stevanović, Ivan Tulić, Dalibor Vukanović (Dorćol), Lazar Živković (Niš), Stefan Ilić, Džavid Jašari (Partizan), Miloš Djurković, Žarko Kovačević, Mile Podkoljnjak (Radnički NP), Vladislav Dedić, Vojislav Dedić, Vladica Nikolić, Miodrag Tomić, Miloš Zogović (Red Star), Filip Stošić (Soko), Miloš Ćalić (Tašmajdan Tigers)

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Russia maintained their unbeaten start to the competition with a testing win in rain-sodden Naro-Fominsk.


Conditions were tough throughout with the game played in a relentless downpour, the Bears making the perfect start when Mikhail Nisiforov and Kiril Kosharin exchanged passes down the left on a 50 metre break, , Kosharin sliding over in the first minute, Aleksandr Lysokon converting.


Both sides struggled to complete their sets with ambitious passes going to ground but the visitors fought their way back into the match through the strong, direct running of Dejan Lukenic and loose forward Stefan Nedeljkovic.


Russia were the more physical in defence and the Serbians were dealt a blow in the 18th minute when impressive full back Milos Zogovic was forced from the field with a serous arm injury causing a re-shuffle.


Seven minutes before the break they were back level, though, veteran scrum half Dalibor Vukanovic scooting over from eight metres and adding the conversion.


In a repeat of the first half, massive second rower Kosharin powered over out wide for his second try within two minutes of the re-start, Lysokon goaling and, on 56 minutes, Nisiforov again exploited the left hand side as he went in to make it 16-6 as concerted Russian pressure told.


Straight after, Serbia thought they had scored when Milos Djurkovic stretched over the line but appeared to fumble the ball, his try disallowed despite Serbian protests.


The Bears secured the win eight minutes from time when excellent full back, prolific Dmitry Bratko crowned his third long break of the game with a try down the right. He had also been exceptional under the high ball in the testing conditions.


Russian coach Igor Ovchinnikov commented: “It was good to win such a close match against very tough opponents. All our preparations paid off, it was very difficult for both sides in the rain.”


RUSSIA 20 (6)


Tries: Kosharin (1, 42), Nisiforov (56), Bratko (72)

Goals: Lysokon 2/4


Dmitry Bratko, Maksim Suchkov, Andrey Zdobnikov, Mikhail Nisiforov, Rustam Bulanov, Aleksandr Lysokon, Artem Grigoryan, Sergey Konstantinov, Roman Ovchinnikov, Anatoly Grigorev, Alexey Nikolaev, Kiril Kosharin, Vladimir Vlasyuk. Subs: Vadim Fedchuk, Konstantin Rostchin, Mikhail Burlutskiy, Denis Tuilenev.


SERBIA 6 (6)


Try: Vukanovic (33)

Goal: Vukanovic 1/1


Milos Zogovic, Milos Djurkovic, Milos Calic, Vojislav Dedic, Filip Stosic, Vladislav Dedic, Dalibor Vukanovic, Lazar Zivkovic, Dzavid Jasari, Dejan Lukenic, Stevan Stevanovic, Vladica Nikolic, Stefan Nedeljkovic. Subs: Zarko Kovacevic, Ivan Tulic, Stefan Ilic, Miodrag Tomic

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It's great to see Russia back after the near extinction of the game there a few years ago. It's equally  great to see the progress being made in Serbia. Some of tbhese players must have potential for Championship or even SL teams.


Anyway, it's great to see international RL growing as it is.

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IRL wont grow in Russia or Serbia because there is no pathway for players to play on an International stage. The recent RLWC cup negated any aspiration to grow the game. Having "heritage" players represent National teams has harmed the game hugely. Don't believe otherwise. 

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IRL wont grow in Russia or Serbia because there is no pathway for players to play on an International stage. The recent RLWC cup negated any aspiration to grow the game. Having "heritage" players represent National teams has harmed the game hugely. Don't believe otherwise. 


We will see. One of them might just qualify for the next WC. Russia once had 30,000 in Moscow for a meaningless game against the USA.

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IRL wont grow in Russia or Serbia because there is no pathway for players to play on an International stage. The recent RLWC cup negated any aspiration to grow the game. Having "heritage" players represent National teams has harmed the game hugely. Don't believe otherwise. 

Yes there is a pathway and a number of Russian and Serbs have played both in France and the UK. Its not easy regarding visas but the possibility is there. Both Russia and Serbia have National comps and Serbia also has a youth league. Maybe you should stop being so negative about International Rugby League and see what is actually happening not what you think is not happening. Yes the RLIF is not much good but it doesnt mean International RL is not doing anything or is a complete waste as you seem to want or see things. 

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MATCH 4  :   ITALY v UKRAINE   :  (Preview)


A new-look Italy make their bow in this year’s competition on the back of their 2013 World Cup exploits, facing Ukraine in Gemona tomorrow (Saturday) who are looking for their first success in their third match.


For the first time, seven Italian clubs are represented in the 20-man squad, with an initial contingent from Lions Brescia.


In all there are seven newcomers to the home ranks, which Azzurri coach Kelly Rollaston sees as confirmation of the strength of the domestic game.


“It’s great to see new teams come through in our domestic competition, which has been very even,” he said. “We know that the matches at home in the Euros are vital for success in this tournament but we are taking nothing for granted. Ukraine have been competitive in all their games so far.”


“It is also important for FIRL to be taking the match into a new territory where we have been warmly welcomed. This is a really positive development for the sport here on a number of fronts.”


His opposite number, Ukraine coach Gennadiy Veprik, is upbeat despite away defeats in Serbia and, narrowly, Russia.


“We are missing a few important players but we are not coming here to surrender,” he noted. “Our young players are up for the struggle and we do not intend to make it easy for the home team.”



Stefano Amura, Simone Boscolo (Ariete), Remi Fontana (Carpentras), Thomas Piscitelli, Pierangelo Ceretti, Giuseppe Pagani, Luca Milani, Andrea Jacotti (Lions Brescia), Luca Ameglio, Gioele Celerino, Chris De Meyer, Gert Peens (NW Roosters), Jonathan Marcinczak, (Racing Club Albi), Joel Miranda (Realmont), Chris Vitalini (South Wales Scorpians), Fabrizio Ciaurro (Tirreno Sharks), Riccardo Candurra (Torino XIII), Medhi Idammou (XIII Della Ghirlandina), Raffaele Dalla Ragione, Diego Del Nevo (XIII Del Ducato)



Troian Mykhailo, Kozak  Oleksandr, Skorbach Oleksandr, Bashevskyi Andrii, Vepryk Bogdan, Felko Vitalii, Shevtsov Sergii, Karpenko Volodymyr, Kardakov Pavlo, Martyrosyan Artur (Legion XIII -Kharkov), Iurkin Igor, Mazepa Volodymyr, Pozhydaiev Danilo, Chernyak Mykhaylo (Titans - Donetsk), Dudka Yevhenii, Butov Kostiantyn (Rhinos - Krivoi Rog), Shevtsov  Igor (Storm - Kharkov)

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ITALY 54   :  UKRAINE 12


A hat-trick from barnstorming debutant centre, XIII Del Ducato’s Raffaele Dalla Ragione was the highlight as new-look Italy won their opening game in European Championship B.


Paul Broadbent’s side, which included six debutants and was almost exclusively made up of players from the domestic competition proved too strong at the Stadio comunale di Teglio Veneto in Gemona, scoring ten tries in all and leading 26-0 at half time.


“It’s been an eventful weekend for Italian rugby league,” said Broadbent. “We have come to a new area and the town has hosted us brilliantly.”


“We have had victories at U18 and senior level and we are developing a proper platform here now. There are some quality players coming through the system at both levels and we can expand from that. We had lots of new faces who have put their hands up.”


“Raffa got stronger as the game went on, all the debutants went well and I am really pleased with the performance.”


Ukraine showed great resilience on their own line in the opening exchanges but fell behind in the 12th minute when Giuseppe Pagani opened the scoring.


Dalla Ragione posted his first soon after; Medhi Idammou, Chris De Meyer and hooker Joel Miranda all crossing before the break, Remi Fontana with three conversions.


Dalla Ragione was in again a minute into the second half but Ukraine then enjoyed their best spell, on the back of great work by prop Volodymyr Karpenko; Kharkov Storm’s Igor Karpenko with their first try in the 50th minute, Volodymyr Mazepa converting.


Miranda claimed his second 15 minutes from time, Mykhailo Troyan replying but the hosts finished strongly with three touchdowns in six minutes from Luca Ameglio, Della Ragione and Idammou to bring up the half-century, Fontana taking his goals tally to seven.


Ukraine coach, Gennadiy Veprik commented, “We expected this kind of game as we were without six first choice players and missing four from Donetsk because of the problems back home, which have severely disrupted our domestic competition.”


“I don’t think, with everyone back on board and homes games next year that we are the weakest, anyone of the nations can beat the other in this competition.”


In the U18 curtain-raiser, Italy defeated Serbia 34-16, Roberto Giuffreda with two of their seven tries. Stefan Vukanovic claimed a try and two goals for the visitors who trailed 20-10 at the break.


ITALY 54 (26)


Fabrizio Ciaurro, Thomas Piscitelli, Medhi Idammou, Raffaele Dalla Ragione, Riccardo Candurra, Pierangelo Ceretti, Remi Fontana, Diego Del Nevo, Joel Miranda, Chris Vitalini, Gioele Celerino, Giuseppe Pagani, Jonathan Marcinczak; Subs: Chris De Meyer, Simone Boscolo, Luca Ameglio, Luca Milani


UKRAINE 12 (0)


Mykhailo Troyan, Bogdan Vepryk, Andrii Bashevskiy, Mykhaylo Chernyak, Danilo Pozhidaev, Volodymyr Mazepa, Pavlo Kardakov, Oleksandr Kozak, Sergei Shevtsov, Igor Karpenko, Vitalii Felko, Artur Martyrosyan, Igor Shevtsov; Subs: Kostiantyn Blitov, Yevhenii Dudka, Igor Iurkin


Referee: Paul Stockman

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The development of home grown Italian players, especially at u 16 level, has to be good news. Mix these promising newcomers with a few Aussie heritage players and Italy would be a good bet to qualify and then compete in the next WC.


Too bad, therefore, that moves are afoot to have the Italian team banned from the WC. The split should be mended, a unified game presented to the world and membership of the RLIF granted. The last WC got the name of Italy in the public's consciousness, heritage players or not, and now is the time to follow on and grow the game in Italy and the World from that exposure, not marginalise them and set the game their back again.

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