Serbia’s best rugby league players ushered in a new season, with ‘Team John’ winning a thrilling fifth Risman Cup, thanks to Aleksandar Pavlović’s late converted try sealing a 22-16 triumph over ‘Team Bev’ at the FK Bask Arena in Belgrade.
The victory avenged last year’s defeat, leaving ‘Team Bev’ 3-2 up in the series. The two composite sides are named after the two sons of Rugby League legend, and one of the sport’s greatest-ever exponents, Gus Risman.
In an intense and quality contest, ‘Team John’ drew first blood early through Stefan Ilić’s try and subsequent conversion by Džavid Jašari.
‘Team Bev’ took the first half plaudits, however, thanks to 2016 SRL Player of the Year, Vladimir Milutinović, who crossed for two tries in six minutes, and Vojislad Dedić kicking the goal, to give Serbian captain, Dalibor Vukanović’s men a 10 – 6 half-time lead.
Soon after the break ‘Team John’ countered. A brace from Miodrag Tomić, in a blistering seven minute spell that also saw Jašari add one conversion, put them 16-10 in front. But ten minutes later, matters were levelled when Miloš Zogović touched down and Dedić added the extras.
The game breaker came in the 63rd minute. `Team John’ centre, Pavlović broke clear down the wing to cross and Jašari added his third goal.
`Team John’ coach, Slobodan Manak commented: “It was a far better match than last year; not one of the boys held anything back. It looks as if they will all be in great form for the domestic season, which starts next week with Dorćol and Red Star battling it out for the SRL Super Cup.”