A perfect day for rugby saw Happy Valley at Episkopi host the latest international game for the Cyprus National Rugby Team, their opponents, Slovakia.
The start could not have been worse for the home side, when a try was conceded within 4 minutes of the start. A wheeled scrum gave advantage to the visitors who took the lead following a break through the middle with an unfortunate miss tackle. The try was converted.
The crowd were soon to be treated to a try at the other end of the field from a well worked break by the Cyprus fly half Kyle Oelofse, converted by Marcus Holden. As the Slovakian fowards settled into the game they created pressure on the Cyprus defence and it was Kyle Oelofse who was forced to make a try-saving tackle in the corner, unfortunately, the referee considered it to be dangerous, giving the Slovaks a penalty which they failed to convert.
Minutes later, Oelofse had to leave the field with a suspected broken foot. His replacement, Tony Crassas was soon in action putting out a pass that bounced before being recovered by Marcus Holden to put Andreas Zacharia into space, who managed to outflank the defence and score under the posts which was once again converted by Holden. Ten minutes later continued pressure in the scrum managed to create turn over ball for Cyprus which was passed to George Agathocteous who powered through the midfield to score under the posts. Half time score 21-7.
The second half started a little scrappy with neither side gaining the upper hand, however centre Luke Peters made a break and managed to push the scoreline to 28-7 after being converted again by Holden.
With Cyprus ringing the changes through injury or substitution, it took time to settle back down with further pressure being applied by the Slovakian forwards. Defending hard, Cyprus kept the visitors at bay but made too many errors in the scoring zone, making silly mistakes or conceding penalties allowing the Slovaks time and territory but they were unable to convert this into points.
However, in the dying moments of the game a beautiful weighted pass from Colm O’Cleirigh put Luke Peters into space, who manage to evade the oncoming defence and see him go over for his second try. The try was not converted, which left the final score line of 33-7.
The victory has seen the team move to top slot in the Division with the league favourites, Bosnia still to play away in Zenica on Saturday 21 March 2009.
The CRF would like to thank all those involved in the organisation at Episkopi, for yet another first class job. Additionally, the sponsors, Sports Direct and Lambouri Wines.
Thanks to Paul Shanks for his game review!