Russia Finish tour on a High

The Russian Bears ended their short tour to New Zealand by thumping Otago 40-10 at Tahuna Park in Dunedin yesterday. It was a game with some crunching tackling which kept turnovers flowing and scoring to a minimum as both teams enjoyed sunny, warm conditions on ANZAC day.

After defending its half for most of the first quarter, Otago scored first, in the 18th minute, when centre Aterea Tawhai beat two Russian defenders in a chase for the loose ball near the line for a converted try.

The Russians bounced back 10min later when hooker Roman Ovtchinnikov went over for an unconverted try.

Russia went ahead 8-6 5min before the break when its second-rower and captain Kirill Koulemine burst through inside the Otago 20. Soon after, Ovtchinnikov scored his second try of the first spell when he went around the defence unmarked at dummy half to give the Bears a 14-6 lead at half-time

However, Otago became its own worst enemy in the second half as the Bears outsmarted and out-manoeuvred the home side.

After halftime the Bears came out firing, and scored 10 points in 12 minutes to take the score to 24-6 after 52 minutes.

Otago scored its only other try of the game when Tawhai scored from a movement in which the ball went through several sets of hands out wide. Russia then sealed the game over a tiring Otago side with three tries in the final quarter.

Otago had its moments, but too many times coughed up the ball early in the tackle count. Otago captain Emil Huch said the game was anyone's at half-time, but his side let itself down in the second spell. Otago second-rowers Julius Kuresa and George Taunga both had fine games, along with loose forward Joe Coyne and scrum-half Mat Lowe. Koulemine and Ovtchinnikov dominated for the Russians, each collecting a hat-trick of tries.

Russian co-coach Bob Bailey said the local team had not had the benefit of build-up matches, like the Russians. Bailey said the Otago side was the quickest team his side had seen on tour, although it was not as physical as Canterbury.

Russia 40 (Kirill Koulemine 3, Roman Ovtchinnikov 3, Aidak Akhmetshin, Sergey Dobrynine tries; Oleg Youkov 4 goals), Otago 10 (Aterea Tawhai 2 tries; Jamie Karehana goal). Half-time: Russia 14-6.

On Saturday, a Russian Invitation XIII comprising players from the Russian touring party that were not considered for the Anzac Day game and several local club players beat the Aotearoa Bulldogs 40-6 at Brooklands Park in Mosgiel. The Mosgiel Cobras hosted the event at Brookland Park and put on a good day for the International visitors and local alike, with the Bar-B-Que going all day and the food flowing encouraging the non playing visitors to enjoy a host of traditional kiwi Bar-B-Que delights.Back on the field, the Aotearoa Bulldogs began the game with the Bears camped in their own 20 metre zone for the first 26 minutes before they worked away at a hole and went over for the first try of the game, and the only try for the Bulldogs.

Down 6-0, the Bears became more expansive in their play and began to stop running up the middle and spun the ball wide seeing the wingers come into their own with a couple of run away tries allowing the visitors to go to the break 8 - 6. Wise words of wisdom is only what can be described from the Bears coach, as they came out fired up and shut the Bulldogs down running away with the points at nearly a point a minute finishing the game 42 - 6 up and letting the Otago Rugby League faithful with an eye opener as to what they can expect from the Bears top side on ANZAC Day at Tahuna Park.

For an informal last minute event, the crowd was as good as any game day event, and the atmosphere made for an entertaining day out.

Russia 46 (Phil Tuitufu 3, Mike Harbour 2, Valenin Baskakov 2, Nikolay Zagoskin 2, Rafael Yakubov tries; Yakubov 3 goals), Aotearoa Bulldogs 6 (Kai Tahiri try; Chad Puru goal). Half-time: Russia 8-6.

Source Otago Daily Times