Rugby League: Red Star Belgrade 20 – 38 Lancashire
Date published: 17 May 2019
Photo: Mark Stringer
Zac Baker (Rochdale Mayfield) at the Lancashire County BARLA tour in Serbian
Red Star met Red Rose on Wednesday 15 May 2019 as the Balkan Champions went head to head against the British Amateur Rugby League Association Three Counties champions, Lancashire.
An entertaining game followed before an appreciative and noisy crowd.
Red Star Belgrade made a great opening to the game and after some good early movement and evasion showed particularly by fullback Milo Zogovic and attacking from scrum-half Darcy Etrick. Red Star scored a well-taken try from Aus Traljanac which was converted by Vojislav Dedic, for an early 6-0 advantage.
It took Lancashire a little time to work into the game but they were rewarded in the 11th minute when Adam Holland (Leigh East) scored from dummy half after getting on the back of some good work by Aaron Smith (Wigan St Judes). It had been coming with Holland darting down the blindside and linking with Tom O'Loughlin (Shevington Sharks) earlier in the set to put Lancashire on the front foot. Jordan Gibson (Haydock) added the first of four first-half goals to level.
The game continued to ebb, and flow and things were even right through to the 27th minute when Luke Belshaw (Wigan St Pats) played on after the ball came off his shins and he chased through. Gibson goaled for a 12-6 advantage and gradually Lancashire took control.
This was emphasised after 37 minutes when Leigh Miners Ladies Head coach Gareth Paine sailed over from O'Loughlin's pass. Gibson goaled well.
Just as half-time beckoned Lancashire scored a great try forged in St Helens as Thatto Heath hooker Conor Dutton worked the ball to Pilkington Recs fullback Ryan Hilliard who shot over the line at pace.
Trailing 6-24 at half-time, Red Star made a positive start to the second half and were rewarded when they first forced an error and then Niksa Hukovic touched down out wide, evading the tackle attempts of O'Loughlin and Gibson.
It was 10-24, both teams had their moments with Lancashire unable to capitalise on Holland's bomb and Deane Meadows knocked on from a scrum attack.
Red Star prop Slobodan Milenkovic made a great break but ultimately this came to nothing.
Then, after 58 minutes a long Lancashire kick bounced on the 3G surface and O'Loughlin chased through to score, Gibson goaled to make it 10-30 to the Red Rose.
Five minutes later a sixth Lancashire try came after some great hands to the right and an athletic dive at the corner from Owen Scholes (Thatto Heath).
Red Star continued to play some solid rugby league and were rewarded with a third try for their persistence from Stefan Nedelykovic, who squeezed through from dummy half after 69 minutes. The Serbians grabbed further respectability when busy fullback Zogovic shot in and he then converted to make it 20-34.
In the last couple of minutes Lancashire had a couple of chances to make the game safe. Luke Belshaw was tackled short and then Holland missed with the drop goal attempt, but then with the last play Zac Baker (Rochdale Mayfield) was rewarded for an all-action game when latching onto an O'Loughlin side kick and running to the line from 30 metres.
Gibson missed with his final goal attempt and Lancashire celebrated a solid win, 20-38.
1. Ryan Hilliard (Pilkington Recs)
2. Owen Scholes (Thatto Heath)
3. Deane Meadows (Shevington Sharks)
12. Tom O'Loughlin (Shevington Sharks)
22. Gareth Paine (Leigh Miners Rangers)
6. Jordan Gibson (Haydock)
7. Matt Whitehead (Oldham St Annes)
16. Ryan Braddock (Wigan St Pats)
9. Adam Holland (Leigh East)
15. Aaron Smith (Wigan St Judes)
17. Luke Belshaw (Wigan St Pats)
19. Zac Nicholls (Leigh East)
13. Zac Baker (Rochdale Mayfield)
18. Conor Dutton (Thatto Heath)
21. Paul Evans (Leigh Miners Rangers)
14. Josh Yates (Wigan St Pats) (Not used)
10. Jimmy Connaughton (Rochdale Mayfield) (Not used)
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