A hat trick from centre Aleksandar Pavlovic saw Serbia defeat hosts Greece 40-6 thanks to a dominant second half display, in front of over 1,000 fans at the Nea Smyrni Stadium. Partisan Belgrade’s Pavlovic scored two tries in five minutes around the hour mark which took the game away from the Greeks, after the Serbians had led 12-6 at the break.
Their head coach, Darren Fisher, commented: “Greece ensured a great stadium and atmosphere, and we thank them. We needed to manage our first 20 minutes better because we knew they would come at us, especially on the back of their World Cup appearance. But the second quarter we picked up the pace and went on from there.”
Rajko Trifunovic opened the scoring in the twentieth minute from a fine offload by Enis Bibic, Vojislav Dedic wide with the conversion attempt. Greece took the lead soon after following a high shot on Stefanos Bastas, Aris Dardamanis’s powerful run seeing him force his way over on the right, Ioannis Nake successful with the conversion.
Pavlovic’s first try, from a fine sidestep, and a conversion and penalty from Dzavid Jasari gave the visitors a six-point advantage at the break.
Dragan Kokanovic, from a clever Vojislav Dedic crossfield kick, increased the lead seven minutes into the second half, Trifunovic with his second before Pavlovic took charge, breaking a tackle from 40 metres out for his second touchdown and profiting from a scrum move to complete his treble.
Kokanovic claimed his second touchdown, Jasari with his sixth successful kick from the touchline to complete the scoring.
“It was a very physical game, as expected,” noted Greece coach Michalis Chatziioannou. “We know the Serbians are very tough players and matched them in the opening period which gave us hope and I think we surprised them. Their greater experience and quality turned the game around, but I am very proud of our boys who fought for the full 80 minutes.”
Ioannis Nake, Iordanis Triantafyllou, Alexandros Aliu, Charilaos Xygkas, Michail Bosmos, Stephanos Stephanou, Aris Dardamanis, Stefanos Bastas Nikolaos Stefanou, Athanasios Lamprou, Leonidas Mingko, Theofylaktos Paraskevopoulos, Aris Koulizakis
Subs (all used): Georgios Paliogiannis, Panagiotis Karefilis, Konstantinos Papageorgiou, Nikolaos Papanikolaou
Tries: Aris Dardamanis (26)
Goals: Ioannis Nake 1/1
On Report – Athanasios Lamprou (76) – dangerous contact
Dragan Jankovic, Milos Zogovic, Rajko Trifunovic, Aleksandar Pavlovic, Dragan Kokanovic, Dzavid Jasari, Vojislav Dedic, Marko Jankovic, Vladislav Dedic, Mihajlo Jovic, Miodrag Tomic, Stefan Arsic, Nikola Djuric
Subs (all used): Denis Cengaj, Enis Bibic, Strahinja Stojiljkovic, Valentino Milovanovic
Tries: Rajko Trifunovic (20, 53), Aleksandar Pavlovic (32, 57, 62), Dragan Kokanovic (47, 67)
Goals: Vojislav Dedic 0/1, Dzavid Jasari 6/7
Referee: Andrew Pilkington (Spain)
Half Time: 6-12