The Luxembourg National team defeated Slovenia yesterday in Ljubljana in the Top of the Table clash for supremacy in the European Nations Championship
The Luxembourg National team defeated Slovenia yesterday in Ljubljana in the
Top of the Table clash for supremacy in the European Nations Championship
After heavy rain early in the day, the game was actually played in pleasant
conditions although the ball and the ground were both a little slippery, and
two evenly matched teams contested for the full 80 minutes in front of a
large partisan crowd. The match was unique due to the fact that Slovenia
fielded 5 Skofic brothers, a world record in International rugby, which
guaranteed wide media interest and all of the siblings contributed to the
Slovenian cause although one was injured after 13 minutes and had to be
Luxembourg started very strongly and had a scoring opportunity after only 2
minutes but Ciaran Keane narrowly missed from 45 metres. It was at the scrum
where Luxembourg was able to completely dominate and with the lineout also
functioning well, the Red Lions controlled field position and had an
excellent break from Francois Simon which almost resulted in a try but the
wealth of possession was not able to be turned into points at all. It was
Slovenia who scored first with a penalty after 14 minutes and a second on 37
minutes, which also saw Philippe Vimond sent to the sin bin and Luxembourg
went to the break a man down and 6 points in arrears.
It was frustrating as many things were being done well, but some basics such
as ball presentation and especially ruck and maul defence were very poor and
allowed Slovenia to often escape the pressure that should have been applied.
In the second half the match continued to be an arm wrestle with the
Luxembourg maul often able to travel 10-20 metres but unable to get the ball
over the line due in part to Slovenia tactics or Luxembourg impatience.
Eventually on the 59th minute the pressure did tell and an illegal collapse
by Slovenia finally resulted in the Croatian referee awarding a completely
justified penalty try, which Keane converted for a 6-7 lead to Luxembourg.
From the restart Luxembourg gifted possession back to Slovenia and after a
sustained 3 minute attack Slovenia crashed over to retake the lead although
the missed conversion meant the scoreline was 11-7 with seventeen minutes
Again Luxembourg attacked and Slovenia counter attacked before the Red Lions
pack was able to control the field position for a long period in the left
hand corner and following a series of lineouts, mauls and penalties, the
forwards rumbled to the line "assisted" by fullback Adrien Timmermans and
half back Stu Logier, with the latter able to place the ball on the line for
the vital try. Gareth Geoffreys added the conversion and Luxembourg led
11-14 with 10 minutes to play.
Slovenia attacked and Luxembourg resisted, and the crowd encouraged the
local players to the desired victory but this Luxembourg team has a very
strong character and every man in the final period performed heroically,
none more so than skipper Saman Rezapour who had sustained a heavy knock
earlier but refused to submit. To add further pressure Zelito Neves dos
Santos received a yellow card with 7 Minutes remaining and Luxembourg played
this period with only 14 players. Whenever it appeared that Slovenia might
make the final thrust, someone would pull off an exceptional tackle to stop
the flow and in two instances turn over the ball. The best of these was by
Johnny Fitzpatrick who drove the centre back 5 metres in a magnificent
Slovenia were awarded a penalty in almost the exact position as Keane's
first shot, and as time was already up, they decided to go for the posts and
salvage a draw but the shot hit the post and rebounded to Vinnie Giffard who
eventually set a maul and despite a wobbly kick from Adrien Timmermans that
did not go out, another wonderful gang tackle saw Slovenia penalised and
finally the ball left the park and Luxembourg had a very deserved and
There were many fine performances in this game from both sides, but special
mention must be made of the four Walferdange players, Neves dos Santos (34
caps), Julien da Col (35 caps) Benji Blanchett (2 caps), and Tim Seite(19
caps) as their club had been very poorly treated by the Belgium federation
in refusing to reschedule their club match due to international commitments
despite the FBRB regulations specifically allowing for such a deferment,
which resulted in Walferdange being forced to default the final game and
therefore be excluded from the semi-finals next week. Whilst hugely
disappointing for Walferdange, the boys used it as positive motivation and
all four played possibly their best ever games representing both their club
and country superbly.
Luxembourg now lead the 2C championship by 3 points and with the final game
against Denmark at Josy Barthel stadium on 9th May are only one win away
from successive championships in two divisions, having won 2D last year.
Photos du match
Composition du match
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