Brad Billsborough inspires Germany win over Czech Republic in World Cup qualifier

Drew Darbyshire

Swinton star Brad Billsborough put in a man of the match display to help Germany beat Czech Republic in a World Cup qualifier.

The Germans are now in pole position for the next phase of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup qualification, with a fine 24-4 win over Czech Republic in Osnabruck. They head the European Championship C – North table.

If they take a point from Norway in Porsgrunn next month, they will face the winners of the Southern section in the next round of WC games.

Swinton Lions half-back Billsborough, 20, became the youngest ever player to captain Germany.

The St Helens academy product scored a try as well as kicking four goals. He also came up with two assists.

It took 32 minutes for the deadlock to be broken but not before each side had made clear cut chances. Germany spurned three opportunities with the last pass going begging and the visitors were twice denied.

On two occasions early on, the hosts created an overlap, but right winger Jannek Hagenah couldn’t reel in the scoring ball and, in the 25th minute, he was again given space out wide again but this time the Czech cover came across to bundle him in to touch.

The bigger visiting forwards looked to plough a furrow up the middle but brave German defence held them up.

Just after the half hour, Billsborough’s guile sent full-back Ben Dent over for the opening try, Billsborough added the goal but he missed a drop-goal attempt in the 37th minute when trying to establish a two-score lead.

Billsborough took matters into his own hands five minutes after the break with a delightful try. He eluded the first line of Czech defence and shown an outrageous dummy to go over, and he landed the extras.

A ball steal in front of their own posts on the hour saw the Czech’s penalised and Billsborough slotted over the goal to make it 14-0 as torrential rain began to fall.

In the greasy conditions, twice the Czech’s spilt the ball coming out of their own 20, and Germany front-rower Connor Hampson plundged over out wide for the Germans as they capitalised.

With ten minutes to go, Oldřich Chrbolka scrambled over in the corner for the visitors to give them hope, Tomáš Řičica converted from out wide, but Germany sealed a fantastic win when Billsborough’s brilliant cut-out pass sent George Wood over. Billsborough’s boot sealed an impressive 24-4 win for Germany.

President of Germany Rugby League and co-coach of the national side, Bob Doughton, said: “It was a very tough, we had to work really hard to break down the Czechs.

“There was some impatience in our build up, but we now move on to Norway and it come could down to point’s difference.

“Brad is 20 and we made him captain because he is a leader and has a mature head to guide the team around the field, but I was also so impressed with Phil Hunz who is only in his second season and filled in for us at loose forward where he has never played before, he was tremendous.”

Czech head coach, Ladislav Cintler, noted: “The game was very even but Germany made less mistakes than us.

“We are getting better every year but we can improve and play smarter.”

Germany: Ben Dent; Jannek Hagenah, George Wood, Sebastian Peter, David Ziekursch; Brad Billsborough, Marc Zupan; Connor Hampson, Liam Doughton, Sebastian Roczyn, Martin Apostel, Josh Leutenecker, Phil Hunz. Subs: Karsten Brüning, Renko Fleming, Phil Wadewitz, Vivi Seelweger.

Czech Republic: Jan Mudroch; Oldřich Chrbolka, Antonín Berk, Filip-Daniel Kittl, Filip Špaček; Tomáš Řičica, Jakub Hudrlík; Bruno Jasiczek, Petr Šedina, Ondřej Maňák, Ondřej Preininger, Jan Heininger, Josef Maňák. Subs: Tomáš Adamec, Richard Gach, Lukáš Krištof, Aleš Pour.

Starman: Brad Billsborough was the standout. He orchestrated everything Germany did going forward and played with a wise head on young shoulders.