St Helens-signed youngster Eliot Peposhi had the distinction of scoring Albania’s first points in a men’s senior international, as his side made their bow in a 58-18 defeat to the Netherlands at Zaandijk Rugby Club.
The son of Albania head coach Arbian finished with 14 of his sides’ points, in a feisty clash that saw four players sinbinned and another put on report, in dull but warm conditions.
“It’s been a pleasure of a weekend, the match itself was great too and exactly what we needed,” said Arbian Peposhi. “Our boys coped with quite a lot of pressure through the whole game but we stood up and competed well in parts. For us it’s a learning curve and will benefit us so much moving forward.
He added: “I’m so pleased a few of Tirana boys have come on so well. Obviously having Eliot there with the level of rugby he plays made a big difference and he was a standout throughout the game.”
It was the second consecutive weekend that Netherlands have scored 58 points in a men’s international with Zwolle Wolves centre Mike Prins claiming his first career hat trick in a ten try haul, Harry Mulligan with the final touchdown to go with nine goals.
Netherlands head coach Dave Hunter commented: “It was a really good game and fantastic to host the Albanians who have been great guests and came full of enthusiasm and threw everything at us. They were very passionate and it was everything you want at international level.
“We’re still not fully clicking, we have standards. Our completion rate improved in the second half, but I want the team to get into good shape earlier in our sets.”
Netherlands will face tenth in the world ranked Serbia next week as their autumn international programme continues.
Harry Mulligan, Isaac Ngirubiu, Maas Van Der Reek, Mike Prins, Daan Van Rossum, Laury Renac, Will Johnston, Tom Van Bokhoven, Mitch Donnelly, Soren Van Der Linden, Paul Kuijpers, Lucas Thomson, Frank Longhurst. Interchanges: Damon Koolstra, Kees Kuijpers, Bonne Wilce, Shadan Lavia.
Tries: Donnelly (4), Prins (11, 67, 75), Van Rossum (15, 40), Koolstra (35), Ngirubiu (53), Van Bokhoven (56), Mulligan (79)
Goals: Mulligan 9/10
Sin Bin: Donnelly (55 – foul play), Van Bokhoven (73 – foul play)
Olban Llapaj, Silvio Cela, Albert Sheu, Dajan Shatraj, Vahid Hoxha, Kirstian Kondi, Ditmar Halla, Arnaldo Telo, Shaban Penxho, Girsjan Priska, Orion Jucja, Elsajd Cubaj, Eliot Peposhi. Interchanges: Eugen Gucaj, Neritan Tafili, Mariglen Nezaj, Andi Zeneli.
Tries: Peposhi (37, 65), Penxho (74)
Goals: Peposhi 3/3
Sin Bin: Silvio Cela (51 – foul play), Andi Zeneli (77 – punching)
On Report: Vahid Hoxha (75)
Referee: Hans Verveer (Netherlands)
Half Time: 30-6