Wins for Iberians, Heat, Lusitanos and Black Lion
There was plenty of excitement around last week ahead of the opening round of the Rugby Europe Super Cup 2022/23 - and the four matches at the weekend certainly did not disappoint.
Spanish side Iberians showed their intent for the campaign with a crushing 61-3 bonus point win in Belgium over the Brussels Devils on Saturday.
Hooker Pablo Miejimolle got things up and running for the visitors with a try early on which was converted.
The Devils got on the board with a penalty, but as the first quarter came to a close Miejimolle bagged his second try and it was converted.
Full-back John Bell scored their third try and then centre Baltazar Taibo went over. Both were converted and it was 28-3 at the interval.
In the second period it was all Iberians and they added 33 points which included another five tries.
Replacement hooker Matthew Smith said: “We are excited to have got a win first up and the way we played in the first half was great.
“Things fell away in the second half, but it was a lot of fun. We will build on this and train hard now ahead of our second match, looking to keep up the continuity and aggression.”
On the same day in the Eastern Conference it was much tighter in Bucharest as new boys Romanian Devils pushed Tel-Aviv Heat very close.
In the end the team from Israel came out on top 25-20, coming back from 17-15 down in the last 15 minutes.
Skipper Jordan Chait kicked a conversion and then winger Pecili Nacebe showed great footwork to score a converted try. A last gasp penalty gave the Wolves a losing bonus point while the Heat walked away with four points.
Heat head coach Kevin Musikanth said: “It was a very tough game, I am very proud of the way the guys stuck to it and got the win in the end.
“We have got some experienced heads and they helped us to get over the line.”
On Sunday in the Western Conference there was another close game where the teams took four and one points.
In the end last year’s runners-up Lusitanos defeated Delta 26-19 in Amersfoort.
A converted try from the hosts in the Netherlands on the hour mark through back-row Dirk Wierenga had got them to within seven points, but the Portuguese outfit held on in the last quarter.
“We knew we were going to be up against a tough, physical side here and that was certainly the case,” Lusitanos captain Joao Belo said.
“In the game we tried to use our speed to counter that physicality, individual errors cost us, but we got the win in the end.”
And to round off the weekend there was a Georgian derby as new boys Batumi hosted the reigning champions Black Lion.
In the end the visitors came out on top, but Batumi can take credit for the way they played.
With four minutes to go Black Lion made sure they started with a bonus point win when their fourth try came from winger Akaki Tabutsadze.
“A win is always a good thing, but we are not very happy with our performance,” Black Lion captain Merab Sharikadze said.
“We could have played better, but it is the first game and we hope to build from here.” he concluded after his side has won 3-29.
By Gary Heatly
Photos: Dennis van Sande, Laurent Lefevbre and Antonio Vasile