Another weekend, another brilliant set of matches with plenty of joy and emotion before heading for a two-week pause in the Rugby Europe Super Cup. The Lusitanos and the Black Lion are on the top of their pools, but there’s plenty to still play for in October.
So, who finished with grace and glory in the third round? Well, we pick out our 4 standouts of what was a weekend with brilliant tries, powerful tackles, gashing scrums, and a little bit of rain…
HOT STATS OF THE ROUND
- Pedro Lucas sits top of try-scoring ranking, with five tries, followed by Iberians Valentín Bustos (4), and Black Lion’s Luka Ivanishvili and Akaki Tabutsadze (3 each).
- Manuel Cardoso Pinto has surpassed 500 meters gained after three rounds.
BEKA MAMRIKISHVILI (RC BATUMI)
Muddy field and non-stop rain, that exquisite combo that brings a smile to the pack, mainly to the front-rows who have the prime opportunity to shine, in what is going to be a tiresome, but “fun”, match. For RC Batumi, the heavy pitch and copious pouring rain just “helped” their Power 5 to march through and score two monster drive tries, which meant their team’s first-ever win in the Rugby Europe Super Cup, and Beka Mamrikishvili must be commended for his astonishing commandeering presence and excellence in leading his pack.
The hooker didn’t miss a single lineout throw, even in torrential conditions and kept a solid and unbreakable scrum bind, which was, in the end, what made the difference between slotting their first win or letting the points escape.
Rugby is, for the most part of it, a winter sport, with rain and heavy pitches, demanding every drop of sweat that the body has, and Beka Mamrikishvili, the Georgian 29-year-old hooker, was just immense at every department of the game, who never stopped working throughout their encounter with Tel Aviv Heat.
KEVIN LENSSEN (DELTA)
We were also graced with a wet pitch in Amersfoort which made conditions complicated once again. In the Lowlands derby, Delta were able to pull off a solid win, and Kevin Lenssen’s kicking ability helped the Dutch franchise to get the four points, as the fly-half kept finding his range to put the Brussels Devils out of sync.
Be it deep kicks, up&unders or straightforward direct grubbers, the nº10 was class, pressuring the opposition at each new volley, forcing the Devils to go back, regather and rebuild their way into Delta’s midfield, where Kevin Lenssen waited patiently to restart that cycle.
Calm when under pressure, the first five-eight was just master tactician, working well with Te Campbell, Jort Doornenbal, or Joran Schoenmaker, to bring their A-kicking game to this 3rd round.
In the contemporary rugby era, we don’t give the deserved merits to how the kicking strategy can be a game-changer, and Kevin Lenssen made sure to remind us how vital it can be. Also, that sweet offload from the ground to Jort Doornenbal try…
NUNO SOUSA GUEDES (LUSITANOS)
Mr. Elusive, Nuno Sousa Guedes, did it again at the weekend, and helped the Lusitanos land a third straight win in this 2022 Super Cup edition, holding on to first place in the Western Conference after a very close battle against their brothers of the Castilla y León Iberians.
His Elusiveness was just brilliant, and one that any team needs on their attacking platform, running a bit on the side to then pounce, find a gap, breach it, and launch a marvelous play that can end in a try.
In this trip to Valladolid, the fullback carried the ball for almost 100 meters, earning himself three line-breaks, one try, and seven defenders beaten, which helped the Portuguese franchise get what can be a pivotal win to finish round 3 at the top of the Western Conference.
And let’s not forget the seven points scored from his boot, missing only one kick out of four, in what was a complete display from one of the coolest, swiftest, and slickest backs in the Rugby Europe Super Cup.
LUKA IVANISHVILI (BLACK LION)
This Black Lion is really coming of age in this year’s competition. Luka Ivanishvili getting noticed this first set of Rugby Europe Super Cup rounds. His powerful drive unstoppable work-rate, and capability to surprise the opposition in the open-game, scoring two tries in his team’s second win of the season.
You don’t want to arm-wrestle the young Los Lelos international, as he can bend his direct adversaries not only by force and wits, finding the best ways to beat the other side, be it in the breakdown (two turnovers) or in the gain-line (one line-brake).
To those who followed closely Black Lion versus Romanian Wolves duel will have noticed how Ivanishvili made his presence feltn and stole the show in some key moments, looking an experienced and seasoned player, when only is 21 years old, tells us how special this back-row can be.
By Francisco Isaac