Competitive rugby league was played by an Albanian team for the first time last weekend, when RLC Tirana made their debut in the Balkan Super League.
They visitors travelled to Serbia to face Radnicki Nis, putting in a highly creditable performance, going down 38-0 in front of a crowd of over 500.
Arnaldo Telo, who played on the wing for Tirana and thoroughly enjoyed the experience said, “The hospitality shown by the Radnicki Nis club, the Serbian Federation, the Serbian authorities and police was amazing. We appreciate it very much.
“This was our first rugby league match against any team from outside Albania, and to play against a more experienced team was very useful to us because now we can see our weaknesses and our strengths.
“The game was very physical. The first five minutes were the most difficult for us because we didn’t know what to expect from Radnicki, or from ourselves, but then we realised that we were capable of doing some very positive things. Our plan was to keep it simple, not trying to overdo anything and avoiding too many complicated handling skills.
“We had done our homework. We knew that best players for Radnicki were their numbers six and seven and we tried to stop them, but it was difficult for us to organise defence on the wings as we have tended to focus on defending the middle of the park first.”
After conceding two early tries to Radnicki winger, Tihomir Stamenkovic, the visitors showed up particularly well in the first half, going into the break only 14-0 down after Stefan Jovanovic had also crossed.
On a couple of occasions in the second half Tirana came close to scoring, but the hosts contined the stronger and a brace of tries in five minutes for full back, Aleksandar Pavlovic sealed their victory.
Radniki Nis 38 – Tirana 0