Last week saw the first ever domestic game of rugby league in the Czech Republic.
Beroun Black Panthers beat the Pardubice Jets 26-16 in a warm-up for the Czech Republic Rugby League Championship which starts next month, also including teams from Prague and Olomouc.
Belying its friendly status, the game – played at Beroun’s Srbsko ground, around 30 kilometres south-west of Prague – was fast and ferocious, with lots of strong running, determined tackling and relatively good ball security despite the wet and humid conditions.
The match was locked at 16-16 after the first of three 25-minute periods, but the Panthers’ greater experience and larger squad proved decisive, with outstanding young talent Jan Buben scoring two third-period tries.
The first try of the match was scored by Martin Cihlar on the end of a rapid-fire backline movement, while Michal Hora, running strongly all day, was rewarded with a try after a typically powerful burst close to the line. Buben also kicked one conversion, while David Safranek kicked two for Beroun.
Outstanding for Pardubice was Stepan Louda, who also scored one of Pardubice’s three tries. He was ably supported by all of the Jets, most notably team captain Jiri Eichler, who also kicked two goals, and forward leader David Lahr, who was playing his very first rugby league match on his 20th birthday, and added a bullocking individual try to his day’s achievements.
Victor Leeow, who scored Pardubice’s other try, and Jiri Folta were the other standouts, both fast and elusive in attack and strong and reliable in defence.