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Luxembourg defeated Moldova and will play in Rugby Europe Trophy next season

It was always going to be a close affair and so it proved at the weekend as Luxembourg battled past Moldova in the access play-off encounter, meaning they will be playing Rugby Europe men’s Trophy in 2024/25.

The Josy Barthel Stadium in Luxembourg was the venue early on Saturday evening as the two in-form Conference sides met to see who would be promoted to the next level.

Before the match kicked off, Luxembourg were 59th in the world rankings with Moldova 54th, but the lower ranked side had home advantage and they certainly made it count.

This was a cagey affair in the first half and in fact it took over half an hour for the first points to be scored.

The try was worth the wait though, Luxembourg’s stand-off Fintan Lawlor showing great feet and a good fend to go over just to the right of the post much to the delight of the majority of the healthy crowd. The same man converted to make it 7-0.

Before that both sides had missed a penalty apiece while Moldova’s discipline was causing them issues.

However, the visitors got through to half-time just seven points behind and it was very much still ‘game on’.

It took Luxembourg 25 minutes of the second period to score the crucial second try, the ball being shipped wide and loosehead prop Domenico Orsino finding himself out there.

Great power, with an effective hand off thrown in for good measure, saw him get over the line and although replacement Hugo Bertani missed the conversion it was 12-0 with 15 minutes left.

And the game was in the bag three minutes later when Luxembourg, with their tails up, bagged try number three.

Adrian Mendez Elola, the scrum-half, was the scorer with sub Matteo Franzina converting to make it 19-0.

That was too much of a gap for Moldova to make up and when the final whistle went it sparked celebrations in the home ranks led by head coach Alexandre Benedetti and skipper Christian Olsen.

These are exciting times for rugby in Luxembourg reaching the Trophy division for the first time in its history. Congratulations to both teams.

Watch the replay of the game :

Gary Heatly

Credit photo : Serge FELTES 

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