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Greek rugby rises a division May 14, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cricket Hockey Rugby.

Greek National Team survives Slovakia’s second-half surge for 20-17 win and European promotion

Rugby may remain a virtually unknown sport in this country, yet, despite a lack of public support, the National Team is making good progress. At the weekend, a 20-17 victory over Slovakia in Thessaloniki saw the Greek team promoted to Division 3C of the European league.

The National Team narrowly missed out on being promoted to the higher-tier division last season after losing to Finland in home and away games. Greece built a seemingly insurmountable 20-0 lead, but Slovakia launched a major offensive to reduce the deficit to just three points by the end of the encounter.

“We played very well in the first half and then went off the boil after the break, but we did just enough to get the job done,” noted Greece’s Michalis Pelekanos. “Last year, it was disappointing when we were beaten by Finland at home and away to miss out on promotion, but this makes up for it. This is absolutely fantastic. A great day for Greek rugby,” he continued.

Pelekanos, the National Team’s former captain, enjoyed one of his best games for the Greek team. Other leading performers who made a massive contribution to Greece’s win included George Tsatzaronas, who started at inside center before switching to outside half, as well as flanker Levan Ivansvili, 18-year-old wing Billy Katzalos, and prop Petros Trifonidis.

Under pressure in the scrum from early on, Greece did well to build a comfortable lead considering the fatigue that set into the National Team’s play in the second half. The team suffered a major setback in the second half when Angelos Seitas, the new captain, was injured and had to be taken to hospital.

His absence seemed to affect the Greek team as Slovakia narrowed the deficit to just three points with twenty minutes of play remaining. Greece, however, managed to freeze Slovakia’s challenge thanks to sound defensive play.

The Greek team’s opening try came from Trifonidis who capitalized on a fine break from Pelekanos. Chris Fiotakis added a second try by collecting a loose ball on the halfway line and outpacing the Slovakian defence. Both tries were converted by England-based full-back Alex Mendoros.

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