Andorra 15 – 14 Cyprus
Rugby news from Ian Fell……..
With Seyhan Fell and Burhan Torgut (back from injury) representing the TRNC in the Moufflons team in Andorra, Cyprus were hoping to put their run of four straight losses behind them and secure a much needed European 2nd Division league win.
With the match not kicking off until 6pm local time, therefore being played under lights, and with the pitch being a 3G artificial surface it was a lot for the visitors to get used to. Cyprus however got off to a good start and despite numerous handling errors and a relatively high penalty count by both teams the game did flow. Cyprus managed to disrupt the initial Andorran line outs and the home team wasted some good chances with too many kicks over the top when in good positions.
With 38 minutes gone of the half and with the score on 0 – 0, Cyprus managed to open the scoring with a superb run by Luke Peters to touch down just before the break, converted by Renno Ioannou, giving the Moufflons a 7 point lead at half time.
Two minutes into the second half and the visitors doubled their lead when a kick out of defence was allowed to bounce by the Andorran back three, allowing Sam Burns – brother of the England and Gloucester player – to gather and score in the corner, presenting Renno Ioannou with a difficult conversion, which he nevertheless slotted between the posts, taking the score to 0- 14. The rest of the second half witnessed a change of tactics by the home side, where they took advantage of their height and weight to bullock the Moufflons in the scrums and lines.
On 45 minutes a penalty kick to the corner allowed them to catch and drive from the resulting line out, which enabled them to carry the ball among the forwards and force their opponents over the goal line, touching down for their first points, 5 – 14
This became the preferred method of attack by the Andorrans, it was apparent that when the ball was in open play the Moufflons were triumphing. On 68 minutes another penalty resulted in Andorra working the ball through the forwards and again scoring, 10-14 with ten minutes or so to play.
All through the second half the feeling was there that unless Cyprus could score another try to get a relatively safe lead, the Andorrans always looked like they had the strength to perhaps turn the game around. With only a few minutes remaining another penalty, resulting in a yellow card for Cyprus, led to a period of strong attacking from Andorra, but stern defence kept the visitors’ line safe. With the clock ticking down the award of a scrum, five metres from the Moufflon line, was always going to be difficult to defend. The home side wasted no time in gaining a strong hold in the scrum, resulting in a push-over try with basically the last play of the game. 15-14 to Andorra.
“Devastated” was the response of veteran manager, Theo Lenos, “we came within a minute of a really deserved victory, but couldn’t quite get there!”
Lenos, who has managed the Moufflons through the glory days added, “The match started with some ferocious hits. We defended valiantly and would not let them through which obviously frustrated them; they are a very big powerful side and used to having their own way. This eventually led to a confrontation in the pack that resulted in Marco (Mladanovic), our captain, and their captain being sin-binned; people on the side-line were baffled by the decision.
We only had two days to prepare for this game and it is such a long time since we have played together, I’m not making excuses, but as you know we pull in players from the diaspora, some of whom have never met each other before, and it takes time to blend and bind a team. The Andorrans have the luxury of playing together in the French and Spanish leagues on a weekly basis, unfortunately we don’t have that situation. But, regardless of that, we played out of our skins and should have come away with a win, but it was not to be.’
“It was a long way to go for such a narrow defeat. It could easily have gone the other way” said Laurence Vassiliades, the Cyprus Rugby Federation President, “our defence was terrific; we just didn’t have enough beef to counteract the set piece tactics. This is an area our coaches will be trying to address in the coming weeks.”
He continued, “As you know, I said this game was crucial, we are without a win and have little time to rectify it. This is a one season league and this was a game between the two bottom teams, now we are holding up the others. I am very proud of our players, they always give 100 percent and never fail to give of their best in very difficult circumstances.’
With the next game for Cyprus being a must win home match against Croatia in Paphos on May 6th, it is hoped that both Seyhan and Burhan will remain fit whilst playing the final matches of their season in the UK, before again turning out for Cyprus rugby. If anyone is interested in making the journey to Paphos to support the national team please contact me, Ian Fell, in connection with possible match ticket, hotel, post-match dinner and transport arrangements – firstname.lastname@example.org
With thanks to the Parikiaki Weekly for part of the above report.
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