By Phil Caplan, Date: 21/9/12
The final game of the year in the 2012-13 European Shield will take place on Saturday in Naro-Fominsk, just outside Moscow. Table-toppers Russia, who defeated Italy a fortnight ago at the same venue, are looking to double their two point lead at the helm against Serbia.
Russia has won all three previous encounters but in the previous meeting, in last yearâ€™s World Cup Qualifier, it took a late Petr Botnarash try to secure the Bears a 36-28 win.
Their player/coach Eduard Ososko has the luxury of making only one change to his squad with industrious Andrey Sevostianov, who travelled to Germany in May, replacing Rustam Bulanov.
â€œWe understand that the game will be quite different compared to the Italy match,â€ he said. â€œThe Serbian team is stocked with powerful forwards so it promises to be a tough contest full of massive contact. We also shouldn’t forget that the coaching staff and the Serbian Federation are very ambitious.â€
That was confirmed by his opposite number. â€œWe see the game as an opportunity to get one over the Russians,â€ said Serbian head coach Marko Jankovic. â€œThe Russianâ€™s results are highly respected but what is certain is that we will try our hardest to upset them at the halfway mark of the competition.â€
The Serbs will be battle-hardened by the recent conclusion of their domestic â€˜Originâ€™ series, won 2-1 by Serbia Country over Belgrade. RadniÃ¨ki Nova Pazovaâ€™s Nemanja BoÂ¾ic is the only debutant while veteran hooker Zoran Pesic is set to extend his record of consecutive caps to 27.
â€œThe atmosphere in the team is very good,â€ continued Jankovic. â€œThere are no injuries, everyone is highly motivated and believes we can perform at our best in front of a big crowd.â€
The schedule for the return fixtures in 2013 will be announced in due course.
Sergey Beliavskiy, Alexey Mikhaylov, Alexandr Samuylov, Victor Tolstov, Sergey Zuev (MGPU), Grigoryan Artem (RBC Red Arrow), Dmitriy Bratko, Igor Chuprin, Vadim Fedchuk, Alexey Volkov (Storm), Petr Botnarash, Sergey Gaponov, Anatoly Grigorev, Sergey Konstantinov, Aleksandr Lysokon (c), Alexey Nikolaev, Eduard Ososkov, Andrey Sevostianov, Maksim Suchkov, Vladimir Vlasyuk (Vereya Bears)
Mirko BoÂ¾ovic, Danilo Delic, Dejan Lukenic, Stefan Nedeljkovic, Stevan Stevanovic, Ivan Â©uÂ¹njara, Vuk TvrdiÂ¹ic, Dalibor Vukanovic (c) (Dorcol), Ilija Radan (Hemel Hempstead RLFC), Lazar Â®ivkovic (NiÂ¹), Nemanja BoÂ¾ic, Pero MadÂ¾arevic (RadniÃ¨ki Nova Pazova), MiloÂ¹ Calic, Vladislav Dedic, Vojislav Dedic, Vladica Nikolic, Zoran PeÂ¹ic (vicecapt.), MiloÂ¹ Zogovic (Red Star Belgrade).
EUROPEAN SHIELD 2012-3 TABLE
1 Russia 4
2 Italy 2
3 Serbia 2
4 Germany 2