In the latest round of European Nations Cup games, Russia grabbed their opportunity to turn in a winning performance over the Ukraine as they attempt to climb the 2011 European Nations Cup table. However, the most impressive performance of the weekend came in Bucharest where a physical encounter saw Georgia edge past their Romanian hosts.
Russia 38:19 Ukraine
Overall, the Bears will be pleased with the win in Sochi but Kingsley Jones may be just a little alarmed with the ease in which their opponents accumulated points at times.
After missing the last outing through illness, the influential Denis Simplekevich returned to take his place on the wing and even in the absence of Aviva Premiership players, this looked a strong Russian unit under the captaincy of Denis Antonov.
However, it was the Ukraine who took a shock lead early on with an unconverted try by Kosariev on 17 minutes but that only served to wake a rather sleepy set of bears who overtook the visitors just ten minutes later with a converted try by the skipper Antonov.
This heralded a free scoring period leading into half time which Russia started with converted tries from Ostrokov, Babaev and Simplikevich. However, a further reply from the visitors narrowed the score going into the break.
Half time Russia 28:12 Ukraine
Russia were kept further in check during the second half in tricky, boggy conditions that made it difficult for their backs to get involved in the game. The match was also lucky to survive the weather as snow threatened for a time but the heavy conditions definitely worked against the home team.
In the second period, the home side edged the points by a narrow margin of 10 to 7 with Russia’s try coming courtesy of replacement Yevgeniy Titov. The collective boots of Ryabov and Kushnarev finally helped secure a winning score line that in no way flattered the Ukraine.
Final Score Russia 38:19
The result wasn’t the best preparation for Russia’s trip to Georgia this weekend but above all, both sides will be hoping that the weather prevails and that the game actually takes place.
The win did at least extend the gap between Russia and the Ukraine in group 1a but with Portugal beating Spain, the Bears remain in fifth place for now.
Romania 13:19 Georgia
Georgia fielded a strong starting XV as they took advantage of Spain’s defeat in Portugal to move to the top of division 1A. With weather adding to the combination of two physical sides, a dour game was in prospect and so it ultimately proved.
Early pressure told for the home side as Daniel Carpo crossed the line to give Romania a 5-0 lead before the ten minute mark. A conversion by Vlaicu and a penalty from Calafeteanu doubled their points tally but Georgia kept in touch with two penalties of their own from Merab Kvirikashvili. The physical nature of the game was evident throughout the half and resulted in one yellow card apiece.
Half Time Romania 10:6 Georgia
In the second half Romania forged further ahead with an early penalty but the turning point came on 48 minutes when Davit Kacharava crossed the line for the second and most crucial try of the match. The conversion brought the scores level and from there it resorted to a kicking contest.
Thankfully for the travelling Georgia support, the boot of Kvirikashvili stayed firm and two further penalties secured the narrow win.
Georgia will now be full of confidence as they prepare to face Russia next weekend and with the Bears patchy form, the Georgians will be clear favourites.
The win in Romania saw them open up a four point gap at the top and with the way the fixtures are falling, another ENC Championship looks to be heading to Georgia.