By Phil Caplan, Date:16/9/13
ITALY 32 SERBIA 20 â€“ Este, Veneto
A man of the match performance from Richard Lepori, whoâ€™s try on the hour secured victory, saw the Azzurri claim second spot in the final European Shield table, in a captivating clash.
The Oldham winger paid his own way over to don the Italian shirt in an effort to make it into their World Cup squad and was happy to get the job done.
â€œI really enjoyed it, Serbia gave it a real dig, they were tough and ran hard,â€ he said. â€œWe had to battle in defence but stuck to our plan of trying to get the ball wide and scored most of our points down the flanks.â€
The Serbians started impressively, dominating the early exchanges but Lepori proved to be their undoing, catching a kick and breaking free over 80 metres, his offload sending Christophe Calegari in for the opening score in the sixth minute, Remi Fontana goaling.
The visitors continued to pose problems, Stevan StevanoviÄ‡ knocking on over the line on the back of a 40-20 but they were rewarded when Vojislav DediÄ‡ chipped to the corner and Marko Ä†uk dotted down for an unconverted try.
Ray Nasso knocked on with the line beckoning but the Italians increased their lead when Gioele Celerino crossed.
Dorcol Spidersâ€™ experienced scrum half Dalibor VukanoviÄ‡ ran a great a great line from ten metres out to go over, Vojislav DediÄ‡ converting to level but on the final play of the first half, Serbia pushed a pass in their own half and Calegari swooped for his second touchdown.
Italian pressure at the start of the second period saw Gert Peens go over and convert his own try but a short sided play saw StevanoviÄ‡ across to cut the gap to six points.
An evasive run from Lepori, who was a handful throughout, saw local hooker Simone Boscolo sneak over and Lepori gained his reward soon after, Peens goaling both.
Two minutes from time, Cuk claimed his brace after a tight contest in the final quarter.
Serbian coach Marko JankoviÄ‡ had nothing but praise for his playerâ€™s efforts. â€œToday showed that local players can compete with what I think was the strongest side in the competition, playing for World Cup spotsâ€ he said.
â€œThis was a triumph for all those who have been involved in rugby league development in Europe for a number of years, it was a great contest. The future is on our side, this is a great format for us to continue to progress.â€
Fabrizio Ciaurro (Coventry Bears)
Richard Lepori (Oldham)
Christophe Calegari (Lezignan Corbieres)
Ivan Barani (XIII del Ducato)
Riccardo Scandurra (North West Roosters)
Remi Fontana (Carpentras)
Chris De Meyer (North West Roosters)
Chris Vitaliani (University of Gloucestershire All Golds)
Ray Nasso, (Avignon XIII)
Cedric Prizzon (Villefrache en Rouergue)
Gioele Celerino (North West Roosters)
Giovanni Franchi (XIII del Ducato)
Jonathon Marcinczak (Racing Club Albi)
Subs (all used)
Michele Verardi (Tirreno Sharks)
Gert Peens (North West Roosters)
Simone Boscolo (Ariete Este)
Drake Muyodi (XIII del Ducato)
Tries: Calegari (6, 39), Celerino (24), Peens (45), Boscolo (58), Lepori (61)
Goals: Fontana, Peens 3
MiloÅ¡ ZogoviÄ‡ (Red Star)
Mihailo BoÅ¡koviÄ‡ (Dorcol)
MiloÅ¡ Ä†aliÄ‡ (Red Star)
Marko MilenkoviÄ‡ (NiÅ¡)
Marko Ä†uk (Dorcol)
Vojislav DediÄ‡ (Red Star)
Dalibor VukanoviÄ‡ (DorÄ‡ol)
Lazar Å½ivkoviÄ‡ (NiÅ¡)
Vladislav DediÄ‡ (Red Star)
Dejan LukeniÄ‡ (Dorcol)
Vladica NikoliÄ‡ (Red Star)
Stevan StevanoviÄ‡ (Dorcol)
Stefan NedeljkoviÄ‡ (Dorcol)
Subs (all used)
Igor Vratnjan (Podbara)
Å½arko KovaÄeviÄ‡ (RadniÄki Nova Pazova)
Mirko BoÅ¾oviÄ‡ (Dorcol)
Pero MadÅ¾areviÄ‡ (RadniÄki Nova Pazova)
Tries: Cuk (19, 78), VukanoviÄ‡ (36), StevanoviÄ‡ (48)
Goals: Vojislav DediÄ‡ 2
Half time: 14-10
Referee: Chris Campbell (England)
Penalty count: 8-7