Ten Red Star Belgrade players star in proper international fixture
Red Star Belgrade provided 10 players for the Serbia national team as they triumphed in an international against Greece at the weekend.
Centre Aleksandar Pavlovic scored a hat-trick of tries as Serbia won 40-6 in front of more than 1,000 fans at the Nea Smyrni Stadium in Greece.
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It was Greece’s first game since their historic appearance at last year’s World Cup.
They were without their overseas players for this one, notably those playing in Australia and England, but kept the score to 12-6 at the break courtesy of Aris Dardamanis’ first half try.
Coach Darren Fisher said: “Greece ensured a great stadium and atmosphere, and we thank them.
“We needed to manage our first 20 minutes better because we knew they would come at us, especially on the back of their World Cup appearance. But the second quarter we picked up the pace and went on from there.”
Rajko Trifunovic opened the scoring in the twentieth minute from a fine offload by Enis Bibic, Vojislav Dedic wide with the conversion attempt. Greece took the lead soon after following a high shot on Stefanos Bastas, Aris Dardamanis’s powerful run seeing him force his way over on the right, Ioannis Nake successful with the conversion.
🇷🇸 At yesterday's match against the Greek national team, ten Red Star players played for Serbia!
🏆 This news brought great joy to the fans and confirmed how important these players are for the national team.#Serbia | #RugbyLeague pic.twitter.com/i3fHQGWjnj
— Red Star Belgrade Rugby League Club (@RedStarRL) May 14, 2023
Pavlovic’s first try, from a fine sidestep, and a conversion and penalty from Dzavid Jasari gave the visitors a six-point advantage at the break.
Dragan Kokanovic, from a clever Vojislav Dedic crossfield kick, increased the lead seven minutes into the second half, Trifunovic with his second before Pavlovic took charge, breaking a tackle from 40 metres out for his second touchdown and profiting from a scrum move to complete his treble.
Kokanovic claimed his second touchdown, Jasari with his sixth successful kick from the touchline to complete the scoring.
Greece coach Michalis Chatziioannou said: “It was a very physical game, as expected.
“We know the Serbians are very tough players and matched them in the opening period which gave us hope and I think we surprised them.
“Their greater experience and quality turned the game around, but I am very proud of our boys who fought for the full 80 minutes.”
Preparing for the European Championships
Serbia are next in action in Czech Republic in August, before they take on Netherlands in October to prepare for the European Championships.
For the first time, Serbia will participate at the top level of the Euros and have been drawn in a group against England, Ireland and Scotland.
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England are expected to visit Serbia for a historic occasion, even if it will be a second string team with England also scheduled to have a test series against Tonga at the same time.
Serbia are due to open up away at Scotland on October 21, then facing Ireland at home the following week before the visit of England on November 4.
Greece will take on Ukraine (October 28) and Norway (November 4) in European Championship B as they seek to earn a place in the next phase of qualifying for the 2025 World Cup.
Greece 6-40 Serbia – Teams and scorers
Greece: Ioannis Nake, Iordanis Triantafyllou, Alexandros Aliu, Charilaos Xygkas, Michail Bosmos, Stephanos Stephanou, Aris Dardamanis, Stefanos Bastas Nikolaos Stefanou, Athanasios Lamprou, Leonidas Mingko, Theofylaktos Paraskevopoulos, Aris Koulizakis
Subs (all used): Georgios Paliogiannis, Panagiotis Karefilis, Konstantinos Papageorgiou, Nikolaos Papanikolaou
Tries: Aris Dardamanis (26). Goals: Ioannis Nake 1/1
Serbia: Dragan Jankovic, Milos Zogovic, Rajko Trifunovic, Aleksandar Pavlovic, Dragan Kokanovic, Dzavid Jasari, Vojislav Dedic, Marko Jankovic, Vladislav Dedic, Mihajlo Jovic, Miodrag Tomic, Stefan Arsic, Nikola Djuric
Subs (all used): Denis Cengaj, Enis Bibic, Strahinja Stojiljkovic, Valentino Milovanovic
Tries: Rajko Trifunovic (20, 53), Aleksandar Pavlovic (32, 57, 62), Dragan Kokanovic (47, 67). Goals: Vojislav Dedic 0/1, Dzavid Jasari 6/7