venue: Bhamdoun Municipal Stadium
5th October 2008
Full Match Report
EURO MED CHALLENGE GAME 3
Lebanon hit back from their heavy defeat in Russia to beat Serbia 20-14 at the Bhamdoun Municipal Stadium in the final match of the Euro-Med Tournament. Stand off Abdul Bekdache was their best performer in an exciting clash between two evenly matched sides.
The Cedars’ positional changes from last week in Moscow worked well, with Ghassan Dandach and Youssef Helou outstanding in a new look back row. Early Lebanese pressure saw Helou held up over the line but on their first attack the Serbs scored from a scrum after a stray home pass had gone into touch, gifting the visitors possession in a threatening area of the field.
Another Lebanese mistake, this time a drop by wing Wael Harb on a simple run out of defence, led to Serbia’s second try from a quick penalty tap, with 18-year-old hooker Austen Novakovic catching the Cedars’ defence sleeping.
Dandach made it 10-6 at the break with good a good solo effort but the Serbs hit back early in the second period, Dalibor Vukanovic’s neat last tackle chip producing a score. The hosts were denied try when they were pulled back for forward pass but an outstanding Bekdache ‘forty-twenty’ kick give them possession on Serbia’s 10-metre line and centre Mohamed Jamil showed great fortitude to force his way over.
Game-breaker Bekdache then pulled off the biggest play of the day, intercepting Novakovic’s pass on his own 10 before speeding 90-metres down the left touchline for the go ahead try with 13 minutes left. He then landed a magnificent touchline conversion, with his late penalty goal securing victory.
Lebanon team manager Danny Kazandjian said, “It was a tremendous rebound from the shocking result in Russia. Our players were thoroughly well organized and committed in defence and sheer passion got us through. Our backs defended well and our forwards really stuck it to the Serbs. Credit to Serbia, they fought well in a tough match, and they won everyone’s respect.”
Tournament Director Kevin Rudd added, “I am pleased that all three nations in the tournament have continued to develop at international level and look forward to more progress next year. Special congratulations go to the winners, Russia.”
R. Khoury, R. Rassi, M. Jamil, Y. Chagoury, W. Harb, A. Bekdache, J. Abinassif, R. Hachache, F. Azzam, M. Finan, G. Dandach, A. El Masri, Y. Helou. Subs: R. Finan, H. Rifai, P. Jabbour, N. Dora
Dario Milosavljević; Jovan Vujošević, Zoran Pešić, Nenad Grbić, Filip Janković; Filip Brkić, Mate Granić; Mario Milosavljević, Austen Novaković, Radoslav Novaković (capt.); Miloš Milnako, Soni Radovanović; Dalibor Vukanović. Subs: Miloš Kućančanin, Miloš Stanić, Marko Žebeljan, Nikša Unković