Belgrade’s Red Star successfully defended the Serbian Rugby League championship, defeating arch rivals Partizan 36-16 in the Grand Final held at the SC Inge Stadium, Zvezdara. Red Star end the domestic season unbeaten, registering a treble with the Challenge Cup and Super Cup previously claimed.
In a tense first half, the opening score came just before the half hour, Nikola Đurić crossing, a further Rajko Trifunović try and Miloš Zogović goal making it 10-0 to the holders at the break. Sam Herron extended the lead but Partizan enjoyed their best spell with two tries in six minutes from Vlado Kušić and Vladimir Milutinović, both converted by Džavid Jašari to narrow the gap to four points.
Red Star’s Ilja Krstića and Milutinović traded touchdowns, but the red and white’s finished the game strongly with three unanswered tries to complete their sixth successive domestic win over their derby neighbours.
The match finished with passions boiling over, two yellow cards and two red cards shown.
“This a great result for us,” commented Red Star head coach, Phil Economidis. “But behind the scenes, the pursuit of becoming the best we can is what drives us. We intend to showcase the talent of Serbian Rugby League.”
Red Star have now won the domestic title three times but the teams meet again at the same venue on Sunday in the Balkan Super League Grand Final, a repeat of last year’s inaugural decider, in a competition that in 2018 has attracted 15 teams from seven nations; with Red Star looking for revenge.
“I am hoping the Balkan Super League final can be played in the same spirit as the first 65 minutes today,” said Red Star managing director, Colin Kleyweg. “Our losing last year in the Balkan Super League Grand Final left a bitter taste over the winter months. Our job is not finished. We will be ready.”
RED STAR 36 : Miloš Zogović, Ilija Krstić, Aleksandar Đorđević, Petar Milanović, Rajko Trifunović, Stefan Nedečjković, Vojislav Dedić, Slobodan Milenković, Vladislav Dedić, Marko Janković, Predrag Keglić, Nikola Đurić, Sem Heron. Substitutes (all used): Vuk Štrbac, Denis Čengaj, Matej Bajić, Stefan Nikolić. Tries: Nikola Đurić (27), Rajko Trifunović (36, 67), Sam Herron (42), Ilija Krstić (58), Predrag Keglić (71), Stefan Nikolić (78’). Goals: Miloš Zogović 4/6, Vojislav Dedić 0/1. Sent off: Stefan Nikolić 78’
PARTIZAN 16 : Dragan Janković, Ronaldo Bitići, Vladimir Milutinović, Nikola Srbljanin, Boban Janković, Branko Čarapić, Džavid Jašari, Dušan Milutinović, Mihailo Ilić, Mihailo Stoiljković, Benis Bajrami, Stefan Ilić, Vlado Kušić. Substitues (used): Nemanja Manojlović, Stevan Ivanović. Tries: Vlado Kušić 46’, Vladimir Milutinović 51’, 61’. Goals Džavid Jašari 2/3. Sin bin: Džavid Jašari 71’, Boban Janković 79’. Sent off: Stefan Ilić 78’.
Half time: 10-0 : Referee: Vladan Kikanović.