Ukraine won the Unity Cup after they defeated Greece in both men’s senior international matches in Athens over the weekend. In the first encounter at the Gkorytsa Stadium, Aspropygos on Saturday they triumphed 38-24, and backed it up at the Goudi Municipality Stadium winning 24-12 on Sunday to claim the trophy 62-36 on aggregate.
Ukraine RL president, Artur Martyrosian, noted: “It was two very hard games. Without domestic 13-a-side competition at the moment, what the boys have done is unbelievable – but that is the Ukrainian character of being warriors. That character showed last year when our U19s beat Italy, Serbia and Ireland, and now this. Our general aim is to play in a World Cup.”
In the first game, Ukraine came from behind to take the honours. Greece led 18-10 early in the second half after Dimosthenis Katsonakis scored in the corner and Sam Stratis converted from the touch line, but Ukraine then registered five tries in 19 minutes to take control of the game.
The visitors hit the front when hooker Yevhen Checheta scored after a break from Oleksandr Skorbach who converted the try to make it 22-18 on the hour. Three minutes later, Dmytro Semereko dived over from dummy-half after Dimosthenis Katsonakis was unable to take a high kick. Another dropped ball led to good field position and Ukraine made the hosts pay when Yevhenii Trusov went over.
They made sure of the win when centre Mykhailo Troian scored out wide, Aris Koulizakis with a consolation try for the Greeks.
Martyrosian, also the head coach, praised his team for the victory, signalling out the performances of his skipper Skorbach, Trusov and 34-year-old centre Troian. “With the situation we have in our country, this is really successful,” he said. “We had a one week training camp and just two rounds of a 9s domestic competition to prepare.”
The second encounter was fiercely fought with Oleksandr Shcherbyna sinbinned. Ukraine took an early lead with tries from Liubomyr Beznoshchuk and Volodymyr Karpenko, Greece replying through centre Stefanos Eskioglou.
Ukraine got the ball back from the kick-off and within the same set went over again when skipper Skorbach stepped through the defence to score. He converted his own try to give the visitors a 14-6 lead at half-time.
Greece had the better of possession in the second half and reduced the deficit to two points after a converted try from Robert Tuliatu but despite being down a player, Ukraine went further ahead when Skorbach went over from close range and they made sure of the win when Maksym Dulia crossed wide out.
Dimosthenis Katsonakis, Samuel Stratis, Konstantinos Katsidonis, Panos Varypatis, Stefanos Morellas, Nikolaos Bosmos, Jordan Meads (c), Stefanos Bastas, Liam Sue-Tin, Vasili Tsikrikas, Nick Flocas, Nick Tuliatu, Aris Koulizakis
Subs: Aris Dardamanis, Myles Gal, Robert Tuliatu, Nectarios Tsakalos
Tries: Meads (7, 27), Katsonakis (49), Koulizakis (75)
Goals: Stratis (4/4)
Danylo Vedler, Taras Kolisnyk, Mykhailo Troian, Liubomyr Beznoshchuk, Orest Adamyk, Oleksandr Skorbach, Dmytro Semerenko, Ostap Hryshchenko, Yevhen Checheta, Volodymyr Karpenko, Volodymyr Mashkin, Yevhenii Trusov, Oleksandr Shcherbyna.
Subs: Ihor Yurkin, Oleksandr Syvokoz, Maksym Dulia, Anatoli Hrankovskyi.
Tries: Kolisnyk (19), Skorbach (23), Trusov (52, 58), Checheta (59), Semerenko (62), Troian (71)
Goals: Skorbach (5/7)
Referee: Roman Bykhov
Half-time: Greece 12-10.
Sam Stratis, Georgios Arvamdis, Stefanos Eskioglou, Petros Bafaloukas, Alex Aliu, Vasilios Vaiopoulos, Jordan Meads, Robert Tuliatu, Liam Sue Tin, Nectarios Tsakalos, Nick Uluwatu, Nick Flocas, Aris Koulizakis
Subs: Bill Tsikrikas, Myles Gal, Stefanos Bastas, Ioannis Nake
Tries: Eskioglou (26), Tuliatu (52)
Goals: Stratis 2/2
Anatoli Hrankovskyi, Vasyl Kravchuk, Mykhailo Troian, Liubomyr Beznoshchuk, Orest Adamyk, Oleksandr Skorbach, Dmytro Semerenko, Valenty Korchak, Yevhen Chechete, Voloymyr Karpenko, Ihor Yurkin, Yevhenii Trusov, Oleksandr Shcherbyna
Subs: Ostap Hryshchenko, Oleksandr Syvokoz, Vadym Milanko,Maksym Dulia
Tries: Beznoschuk (12), Karpenko (15), Skorbach (29, 63), Dulia (73).
Goals: Skorbach 2/5
Referee: Roman Bykhov
Half-time: Ukraine 14-6.