EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP B 2014-15: GAME 12 – RUSSIA 26 ITALY 6 – REPORT
New Russia coach Denis Korolev saw his side triumph at the Fili Stadium, Moscow, in front of over 1,000 fans; three tries in eight minutes leading up to the half hour proving to be decisive.
“It was the best possible performance we could have put in seeing as the team had only been assembled at short notice,” he said.
“Everyone that wanted to be here was, they put in their best and were enthused by the passionate crowd in the stadium.
Korolev added: “We stuck to our tactics and played wide where we had size. We now start thinking about the World Cup Qualifiers next year, it would be a massive boost to get there in 2017.”
The hosts made the perfect start, Italian winger Luca Rosetti putting the ball inside only to see Aleksandr Lysokon intercept and go 30 metres to score and convert in the third minute.
The Azzurri got back into the game, defending their line well and, when they went up the other end, hooker Simone Boscolo nipped over from acting half back 10 metres out, Remi Fontana’s goal levelling matters.
Russia moved the ball well across their backline, only handling errors in promising positions preventing them from going in front.
They re-took the lead in the 22nd minute, Sergey Gaponov going over on the right after Rostti had knocked on a last tackle kick to allow a second set of six.
Mikhail Burlutskiy went across in the next set to extend the lead and, on the half hour, Santino Decaro was sinbinned for a shoulder charge, the Bears immediately sweeping the ball right for powerful centre Dmitry Bratko to go over in the corner for an unconverted try.
Loose-forward Pavel Gribkov was sinbinned at the start of the second half for a dangerous tackle as the penalties mounted in Italy’s favour but the Russian resolve held and they defended well.
The only try of the second period came in the 73rd minute, Kirill Kosharin, a prop playing on the wing, burst through on an angled run and fed Bratko who sent in Petr Botnarash between posts, Bratko goaling.
Italy coach Paul Broadbent commented: “They were too quick for us. Despite the late confirmation of our squad due to visa issues, we still didn’t play well enough, particularly in the first half.
“But we redeemed ourselves in the second. We played with a bit more patience and composure but the damage had been done by then.”
Nikolai Zagoskin, Petr Botnarash, Dmitry Bratko, Mikhail Burlutskiy, Kirill Kosharin, Aleksandr Lysokon, Vladimir Vlasyuk, Sergey Konstantinov, Dima Ivanouchkin, Georgii Vinogradov, Vadim Fedchuk, Sergey Gaponov, Pavel Gribkov
Subs (all used): Konstantin Roschin, Maxim Suchkov, Igor Chuprin, Mikhail Nauchenko
Tries: Lysokon (3), Gaponov (22), Burlutskiy (24), Bratko (30), Botnarash (73)
Goals: Lysokon 2/4, Bratko 1/1
Richard Lepori, Luca Rosetti, Christophe Calegari, Emanuelle Passera, Nicola Bellotti, Pierangelo Ceretti, Remi Fontana, Dario Esposito, Simone Boscolo, Angelo Ricci, Santino Decaro, Guiseppi Pagani, Gioele Celerino
Subs (all used): Luca Milani, Matthew Sands, Stefano Amura, Kelly Rolleston
Try: Boscolo (16)
Goal: Fontana 1/1
Man of the match: Aleksandr Lysokon
Half time: 20-6
Referee: Tom Mather (England)
FINAL EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP B – TABLE
1 Serbia 6 5 1 0 196 73 123 0 10
2 Russia 6 4 2 0 137 92 45 0 8
3 Italy 6 3 3 0 142 134 8 0 6
4 Ukraine 6 0 6 0 80 256 -176 0 0