Today Rob Crosby looks at the South Sydney Rabbitohs ahead of season 2017. Can they ascend the #NRL ...
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EUROPEAN FEDERATION DEVELOPMENT INTERNATIONAL
NEDERLAND TASMAN 34 CZECH REPUBLIC 28
A superb try saving tackle by outstanding Dutch full back Rudy Stanford-Smyth prevented the Czech Republic from a possible share of the spoils on their first foray onto foreign soil.
There were huge positives for both nations in a terrific, flowing encounter; the Dutch fielding a predominantly home-based side showing great resolve to secure victory while the European newcomers proved that they have the talent to be competitive.
Holland made a great start, racing to a 14-0 lead in the opening quarter hour as the Czech?s failed to complete their sets of six giving good field position to the men in Orange.
Nottingham Outlaws? Phil Parkinson opened the scoring, with the excellent Stanford-Smyth crossing twice in three minutes as he linked decisively from the back.
The visitors, initially suffering from the after-effects of a 1000km bus journey, began to find their feet, with stand off Mikhal Kucera at the heart of their best work.
Prop P?emek Br?dle skittled the defence to power his way over and strong running second rower Josef Kucera posted the first of his three tries to reduce the gap to four points.
On the stroke of half time, experienced Dutch scrum half Jorik Moree skipped clear and away for a fine solo try, Aaron de Jager?s second conversion making it 20-10 at the break.
Within ten minutes of the re-start the Dutch had doubled their advantage, confidently spreading the ball wide to create touchdowns for wingmen Cameron Stewart and Jamie Groeneweg.
Mikhal and Josef Kucera replied, with Mikhal converting both efforts to bring the score to 30-22, only for Moree to produce another expertly timed dart on the 70th minute for the hosts.
Josef Kucera deservedly completed his try treble to set up a tense finish, Standford-Smyth securing victory with his heroic late tackle.
European Rugby League Development Officer Kevin Rudd, who oversaw the clash, commented; ?I would like to pay tribute to the Czech squad who conducted themselves superbly on and off the field and made great efforts to play the match. Their sporting spirit was admirable and they are a welcome addition to the growing European Rugby League family.?
Czech General Secretary Milan Mrtynek added, ?That was a great learning experience for us and all the guys enjoyed the game. We look forward to more Rugby League and welcoming more teams to Prague to give us further experience.?
Netherlands RL President Ian Thompson was equally enthusiastic, ?It was a fantastic display of open rugby with great flair and attacking play from both sides. With ninety per cent of our squad from Holland, that was a great development for us? he said.