Red Star Belgrade successfully defended the Serbian Rugby League championship, defeating arch rivals Partizan 36-16 in the Grand Final held at the SC Inge Stadium, Zvezdara.
Red Star end the domestic season unbeaten, registering a treble with the Challenge Cup and Super Cup previously claimed.
In a tense first half, the opening score came just before the half hour, Nikola Đurić crossing, a further Rajko Trifunović try and Miloš Zogović goal making it 10-0 to the holders at the break.
Sam Herron extended the lead but Partizan enjoyed their best spell with two tries in six minutes from Vlado Kušić and Vladimir Milutinović, both converted by Džavid Jašari to narrow the gap to four points.
Red Star’s Ilja Krstića and Milutinović traded touchdowns, but the red and white’s finished the game strongly with three unanswered tries to complete their sixth successive domestic win over their derby neighbours.
The match finished with passions boiling over, two yellow cards and two red cards shown.
Red Star head coach, Phil Economidis, commented: “This a great result for us but behind the scenes the pursuit of becoming the best we can is what drives us, we intend to showcase the talent of Serbian Rugby League.”
Red Star have now won the domestic title three times but the teams meet again at the same venue on Sunday in the Balkan Super League Grand Final, a repeat of last year’s inaugural decider, in a competition that in 2018 has attracted 15 teams from seven nations; with Red Star looking for revenge.
“I am hopeful that the Balkan Super League final can be played in the same spirit that the first 65 minutes,” said Red Star managing director, Colin Kleyweg.
“The loss last year in the Balkan Super League Grand Final left a bitter taste over the winter months. Our job is not finished, we will be ready.”
Red Star Belgrade: Zogović; Krstić, Đorđević, Milanović, Trifunović; Nedečjković, Dedić; Milenković, Dedić, Janković, Keglić, Đurić, Heron. Subs: Štrbac, Čengaj, Bajić, Nikolić.
Partizan: Janković; Bitići, Milutinović, Srbljanin, Janković; Čarapić, Jašari, Milutinović, Ilić, Stoiljković, Bajrami, Ilić, Kušić. Subs: Manojlović, Ivanović.