Tel-Aviv Heat show “character” to start busy few days of Rugby Europe Super Cup action
Tel-Aviv Heat head coach Kevin Musikanth has praised the “character” his squad showed on Friday to defeat Lokomotiv Penza 33-14 in the Rugby Europe Super Cup.
The Israel-based side beat their Russian opponents 33-14 in Georgia in the Eastern Conference.
And Musikanth said after their second victory in three group games: “I am really proud of the character that the boys showed in this game.
“There were two key moments for me in the game, at the end of the first half and at the end of the match.
“At the end of the first half we had to battle hard to defend and keep them out so that we didn’t go behind at the break and then, at the end of the second half, we attacked well to get ourselves an important bonus point.
“It leaves us in with a chance of the play-offs.”
There are three games on Saturday, the first of them kicking off at 11am UTC.
Spanish side Castilla y Leon Iberians, who are second in the Western Conference, host fourth placed Brussels Devils in Valladolid
“For us, having already qualified for the play-offs, in this match we can express ourselves a bit,” home head coach Miguel Velasco said.
“The team is in very good spirits and eager to give the fans something to cheer about.”
His opposite number from the Devils, Frederic Cocqu, said: “This is the last game of the Rugby Europe Super Cup campaign for the Brussels Devils. The players and the staff are all eager to finish this beautiful competition, which has allowed many of our young amateur players to progress, on a high.
“The difficulties encountered by the Covid situation have not made things any easier, but the motivation and commitment of all will be there.
“The watchword after the difficult match against the Lusitanos last week was recovery. We had to recover physically and mentally because the match was hard for us.
“Only one training session took place this week before our departure, without contact because the bodies needed to regenerate.
“The Iberians are professional players who are used to high level matches, as we could see during our first game with them earlier in the campaign.
“It will be up to us to raise our level of commitment again and I have faith in my players.”
At 1pm UTC, in the Eastern Conference Black Lion from Georgia are taking on Enisei-STM of Russia.
This is second versus first in the pool and, as a result, it should be a cracker in the Avchala Rugby Stadium in Tbilisi.
Levan Maisashvili, head coach of Black Lion, said: “Many of the core players missed the previous game due to injuries and minor problems.
They are a great strength for us, especially due to the fact that the team is new. In this respect, Sharikadze and Mamukashvili are obvious leaders, Tabutsadze and Aptsiauri are important forces, as well as Pataraia. It is great that they return to us and this will improve the quality of the game.
“They know what decisions to make at critical moments and I think the return of these players will make a big difference in our game.”
The final game of the day is at 3pm UTC when Lusitanos host Delta in Lisbon, Portugal.
The hosts are top of the Western Conference with their visitors from the Netherlands third.
Luis Pissarra, Lusitanos assistant coach, said: “It's the last game of the pool stage and our position is guaranteed, so we'll take this opportunity to give playing time to players who have had fewer opportunities to play to show their skills. These are players we can count on in the future.
“We'll want to keep our consistency and despite some changes in the team we won't lower the quality.”
Allard Jonker, the Delta head coach, states: “After a solid performance against Iberians we are facing a complete different team with a completely different team from our side.
“We've really used the opportunity in the first Super Cup to build relationships with young players in the country and with their clubs and coaches.
“We might have not got the results we have wanted, but the best gain for us this season is the ‘buy in’ from clubs and players. Yes, we maybe could have had some better results in the last four games, but at the same time than we would have only used the players we already know and these players already get opportunities to play at this level.
For us, working with so many new players and showing them what the next step in their rugby career looks like is great. We see changes in their approach and behaviour compared to the start of the season.”
Catch all of the action tomorrow on rugbyeurope.tv
By Gary Heatly
Images: Portugal Rugby, Daniel Halac, Gogita Bukhaidze