venue: Dunav FC
11th June 2011
Full Match Report
BARLA U19 TOUR OF SERBIA
SERBIA U21 6-50 BARLA YOUNG LIONS
The prospect of returning home with anything other than a 100-percent record was enough to ensure that a fired-up Young Lions side demolished every obstacle put in front of them as they put the game to bed in a clinical first 20 minutes. Miles Fairbank, in particular, looked like he was playing in those opening stages as though his life depended on it. The Serbs simply couldn’t stop the big prop from Elland who swatted off opponents with consummate ease. Outwide, Ben Swift, the Cockermouth centre backing up from Wednesday, was superb in attack and defence as was his centre partner James Duerdan, while the halfbacks Jacob Crossland and Jamie Usher kept things ticking over.
Ashley Hutchinson also stamped his mark on the game with two tries in the opening 11 minutes, firstly supporting captain Lewis Wilson’s break and then backing up Usher’s mesmerising run. Crossland goaled both efforts. Fairbank set up the third for Swift as he stormed into the Serbs’ half, arced left and found his centre who beat his man and scored outwide. With the Lions in this mood, it was game over. Crossland droped the kick off, but the visitors’ goalline defence was superb - as it was for most of the game; in marked contrast to Wednesday when it was found wanting too often.
Up at the other end, Lewis Smith had a try disallowed thanks to a forward-pass call but made amends on the half-hour mark when Crossland’s majestic long cut-out ball was snapped up by Tom Saltmer for his third try of the tour. Four minutes later, hooker Sam Dowsett burrowed his way over for a short-range, dummy-half try, with Crossland’s goal making it 34-0. But the biggest cheer of the day ws reserved for the powerful Serbian prop Milan Strbac. The local butcher, with legs like plump sausages, produced a close-range surge that took a couple of defenders over the line with him as he gleefully slammed the ball down. Strbac’s strong hit-ups had already caused the visitors a couple of problems and his four-pointer was just reward for his efforts. Milos Zogovic, who had a decent game at fullback, converted.
Despite conceding a handful of early penalties, the British started the second half the stronger, looking to finish off their tour in style. When their defence was tested, it held out, and when Wilson marauded upfield, the Serbian cover defence only just got back. The ball was moved to the left where Swift drew the last man and sent fullback Jack Ridsdill over the line. Moments later, Ridsdill fulfilled the role of creator, as he put Crossland away at the end of a 70-metre move. Crossland’s subsequent conversion was majestic - 30 metres back right on the touchline. And it won him a satisfying post-match beer, with a local supporter betting him he would miss!
With 40 points in the bank, the visitors started to field their nine substitutes, one by one, and the fluidity of their performance waned. Todd Appleby smashing the luckless halfback, Stefan Nikolic, as he had done on Wednesday, was the highlight of a drab, ten-minute lull, before Ross Gainford, the tour captain, on from the bench, weaved across the field to send his Kells clubmate Lewis Smith to the line. Shortly after, Gainford’s steepling bomb saw Nikolic all over the place and Matthew Meaden, another sub, picked up the scraps to stroll over under the posts. Appleby’s simple conversion brought an end to the scoring.
There were still 14 minutes to go, plus a sizeable amount of added-on time as the game petered out. A brawl saw winger Rafik Boudersa sin-binned for bizarrely launching himself into the action feet first, and Gainford soon followed for questioning the referee’s subsequent decision to penalise the British. In truth, BARLA’s frustration at the massive penalty count against them contributed to the lack of flowing rugby played in the closing stages.
Delighted with his side’s performance, joint coach Mark Robb said: "The guys played really well and were a credit to themselves. "The game was wrapped up early on but with so much going against them in the second half, particularly the huge penalty count, it was fantastic to see the lads keep the Serbians scoreless in that period. "It’s been a great tour and the players have conducted themselves magnificently."
Milos Zogovic, Rafik Boudersa, Stevan Stevanovic, Milos Calic, Radovan Tajsic, Filip Brkic, Stefan Nikolic, Milan Strbac, Niksa Unkovic, Mile Podkoljniak, Stefan Nedeljkovic, Lazar Gospavic, Vuk Turdisic (c). Subs: Nemanja Bozic, Zarko Kovacevic, Marko Marinkovic, Slobodan Manak, Vojislav Andelkovic, Vladislav Dedic
Jack Ridsdill, Lewis Smith, James Duerdan, Ben Swift, Tom Saltmer, James Usher, Jacob Crossland, Miles Fairbank, Sam Dowsett, Ashley Hutchinson, Rob Wilson, Tom Holmes, Lewis Wilson (c). Subs (all used): Chris Highton, Connor Myers, Ross Gainford, Matthew Meaden, Payden Candland, Mike Whittle, Jamie Martin, Adam Brummitt, Todd Appleby
Serbia U21: Rafik Boudersa - running in, Stefan Nikolic - high tackle
BARLA Young Lions: Ross Gainford - dissent