In ideal conditions for the Luxembourg team, wishing to expand the game from previous competitions, into an all-inclusive team performance, the game began well when an error by the Serbs in receiving the kick allowed Luxembourg to dominate the early exchanges, before the constant pressure forced a penalty from the hosts which was duly converted into points by Scott Browne for a 0-3 lead to the visitors.
The dominance continued with the Luxembourg forwards appearing to be fitter than Serbia and constant quick recycling of the ball dispatched to an eager back line saw pressure again exerted and resulted in a fine team try to Philippe Vimond, who came off his right wing to score outside centre Tertius Barnard. Browne missed the conversion but made amends when Christo Rossa totally outpaced the defence to score an excellent winger's try flying down the left flank before rounding in the corner to force the ball under the posts. At 0-22 at half time the game was effectively over as a contest and it only remained to see if Luxembourg would be ruthless enough at this higher level to continue to dominate the opposition.
While two further tries were scored in the second half via Browne with a good individual effort, and another team try to Johnny Fitzpatrick with superb support play, both converted by Browne, Luxembourg collectively did lower their standards a little and while never really in danger of conceding points, did not maintain the pressure from the first half. This despite some fine performances from the subs who entered in this period, notably Francois Simon, Edoardo Angioni, Gareth Geoffreys and in his 50th cap, Nigel Sharplin.
Final score: Serbia 0-36 Luxembourg. Tries by Vimond, Rossa, Vert, Fitzpatrick, Browne; Conversions (4) by Browne; Penalties (1) by Browne.
The set play, especially the Luxembourg scrum, was very solid and allowed Browne to dictate field position with some astute kicking, supported by some fine defence work by all players but the Serbian line out was effective and Luxembourg will need to improve some of the contesting in this area against better teams. Player of the Day was deservedly won by Vincent Giffard who performed heroically all match but he was well supported by Saman Rezapour, JB Vert, Thomas Kremer and Yannick Boone in the forwards, and Stu Logier set the standard amongst the backs with some super defensive work as well as good rapid distribution.
As a starting point in the higher levels of European rugby, Luxembourg can be satisfied with both the result 0-36 and the first half performance which really was quite clinical, but the inability to maintain focus and drive is of concern when considering the quality of the next opponent Austria, who defeated Denmark in their opening game. Luxembourg will host Austria at Josy Barthel stadium on Saturday 8 November in what promises to be an epic encounter, of huge importance to both unbeaten teams.
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