After a draw with Black Lion in week two, Tel-Aviv Heat are in Georgia once again to kick off week three of Rugby Europe Super Cup action when they take on Batumi on Saturday.
Batumi go into the home clash at 3pm local time still searching for their first Eastern Conference win while the Heat have won one and lost one so far.
The hosts will have taken heart from pushing the Romanian Wolves for large parts of last week’s encounter while Heat head coach Kevin Musikanth said: “Rugby competitions fly by and who would have thought that the first round of matches would be complete this weekend, it’s gone quickly.
“It has been a whirlwind of activity for us at The Tel-Aviv Heat and we have loved every second of it. It was a very tough match against Black Lion last Sunday, we respect Georgian rugby and it went down to the wire.
“I am very proud of the manner in which our boys played all the way to the end, almost winning it, but coming away with a precious away draw against the defending champions. This is a huge achievement for our club.
“We are still a long way away from the business end of the tournament, so we have to look at it week by week. We have had a good chance to settle into the tournament now and, as we approach a match with a strong Batumi team, we need to make sure that we continue to improve.
“Our goal as a squad is to get better each week on the field as players, but at the same time understand ourselves better off the field as people.
“We have some real characters in the squad and whilst we have prepared for a tough encounter at the weekend we have relished the opportunity as a squad to enjoy the journey.”
The second Saturday match this week comes in Amersfoort where Delta from the Netherlands welcome the Brussels Devils at 3.30pm local time.
Last weekend was one to forget for both clubs although you imagine that Delta took far more positives out of their 22-7 loss at Iberians in Spain than the Devils did from being thumped 95-0 to Lusitanos in Portugal.
Ahead of the game, Head Coach Frederic Cocqu, said, "The boys are keen to show another side to their skills and game level. Of course, this match against Delta will still be complicated but the desire is there, the determination too.
We will have to play a full game for 80 minutes, erase all the imperfections which at this level are paid for in cash and be in the game (in the score) as long as possible... and if possible in front.
The boys, in spite of the 2 heavy defeats, do not give up anything as well as the staff. It is in the difficulty that cohesion is created, it is in the fall that we learn from our mistakes.
They are third and fourth in the Western Conference to date respectively with no wins between them, so this is a big chance for someone to get things up and running."
The third match on Saturday is also in the Western Conference and it should be a cracker between Iberians and Lusitanos.
The supporters who make it along to the Pepe Rojo Stadium in Valladolid can expect two sides high on confidence as they have both won two out of two to date.
Ahead of the match that starts at 6pm local time, Iberians head coach Miguel Velasco said: “This Saturday against the Lusitanos I think it is the game with the most interest that we can see in the first round of the Super Cup.
“They have a lot of international players who are preparing for the World Cup and we also have high level players, so we will see a very interesting match. The Lusitanos play rugby at speed and move the ball quickly.
“We also like this, so we are going to see a great sporting spectacle with two teams that are battling it out for first place [in the Conference].”
The one game on Sunday is in the Eastern Conference where Black Lion take on the Romanian Wolves in Kutaisi at 4pm local time.
Black Lion have won one and drawn one to date while, in their first year in the competition, the Wolves have one won and lost one of their first two games.
Visiting head coach Sosene Anesi said ahead of their trip to Georgia: “We are playing the leaders in our group so we are very motivated and excited for this game.
“Black Lion are a very good team that brings both physicality and a good running game. As a result, we have to be on top of our game for the whole 80 minutes and this is an opportunity to back up our performance from the Batumi game.
“It’s a new team, new challenge and some young players will be getting their starts, so, it’s an opportunity to see where they’re at and I’m confident they will deliver.
“It’s going to be tough, but at the same time very exciting.”
By Gary Heatly
Images: Dennis van Sande, Irakli Tkemaladze,