venue: New Era Stadium, 24/26 Sussex St, Cabramatta
5th February 2016
Full Match Report
THERE were hardly any press reports anywhere about the Philippines out-muscling the bigger Serbian forwards to win a Test match at the whistle 18-12 at Cabramatta Stadium.
The Sydney press may have missed one of the most absorbing, thrilling and physical rugby league matches of the pre-season, even counting games in the major leagues.
Both sides played their hearts out for 80 minutes, Serbia opening its account with a classy try only five minutes into the game from Dorcol centre Stevan Stevanovic.
It was a wake-up call for the Filipinos, who retaliated with three successive tries. A barreling charge over the line by Rez Phillips left three defenders in his wake and sent out the first signal of the Tams’ fierce determination.
The second try was a spectacular gem. A kick from 10 meters sent Luke Srama and Michael Mason chasing after the ball with three Serbians in tow. The ball bounced in-goal and soared out of bounds. Speeding ahead of the pack, Srama flew to catch the ball in flight and flick it back inside to Mason who grounded the ball.Richard Goodwin added another try flying over the line on the right wing. Fortunately for the Serbians, the Tams’ conversion kicks were unsuccessful.
Then, before the halftime siren sounded, Serbia suffered its first casualty with one of the team’s big forwards limping off the field injured.
At halftime, the Philippines led 12-4.
Serbia opened the second half like men on fire. They piled two tries in eight minutes, from Stevanovic with his second try and Vujanovic on his international debut, to tie the score 12-12.
But shortly after, a second Serb fell on a tackle and had to leave the field on a stretcher. Again a fresh replacement came in, but that didn’t help much because a third Serb had to leave the field limping and be replaced. Philippines now had the momentum and the Serbians were visibly tiring fast.
Before the final whistle, Dylan Jones found an opening and shot through to break the tie and put Philippines ahead 16-12. The conversion kick by Ned Stepherson added another two points and sealed the fate of Serbia 18-12.
Serbia’s desperate attack in the dying seconds, near the Philippines’ defensive line, sent shivers up the Pinoys’ spine. But the Serbians were denied at the final whistle.
Trent Swanson, Blake Mackey, Richard Goodwin, Ned Stephenson, Michael Mason, James Marcus, Paul Sheedy, Dylan Jones, Luke Srama, Glenn Powers, Rez Phillips, Ricky Kucia, Steven Bernstrom , Tyrone Tooell, Elvis Jensen, Will Grooms, Jeremy Grooms
Joshua Marjanovic, Milos Zogovic, Milos Calic, Stevan Stevanovic, Dzavid Jasari, Vojislav Dedic, Dalibor Vukanovic, David Andjelic, Vladislav Dedic, Stefan Nedeljkovic, Djordje Vujanovic, Nikola Strbac, Ilija Radan, Reece Grkinic, Milan Radojevic, Ilija Cotric, Dejan Lukenic