Czech Republic XV 18 Penguin International RFC 29
Tuesday 17th April 2018, Prague
Report by Tim Stevens
The Penguins travelled to Prague, to face the Czech Republic XV on Tuesday 17th April 2018 as a warm up match for the Czech’s important game the following Saturday against Moldova – which they subsequently won 35 points to 21 to finish in their highest place for ten years in European Rugby.
Come kick off time at 5pm, the weather conditions were excellent for a fast, open, attacking game of rugby – in true Penguins tradition. The challenge ahead for the squad was large, as they faced an organised and determined Czech team keen to impress their coaches. With just one 90-minute training sessions and a team run, the Penguins were slightly ‘under-cooked’! Perhaps the Sunday evening ‘bonding’ session was more important to bring the team together within the convivial atmosphere of the Prague City centre! From the off it was clear that this was going to be a highly physical encounter with the large home forwards looking to assert their dominance in the tight and loose. Nevertheless the Penguins starting eight were up for the challenge and it was they that gained the first penalty on 6 minutes which classy fly-half Brook Tremayne coolly slotted between the posts. The home side hit back soon after their left wing found just enough space to dive over in the corner following a blind side break by the scrum-half; the try however went unconverted. The score then changed hands three more times before half-time, with each side looking to attack at every possible opportunity and with defences perhaps not as organised as a club side, gaps regularly appeared. Full-back Jacques Flick, who plays for a club side in Prague was the first Penguins try scorer when he followed a clever break by centre Cameron Mitchell and then outpaced the cover defence to touch down the kick ahead, with Tremayne adding the extras. The Czech side hit back almost straight away from the resulting kick off, with a tight forward being driven over from a well-executed catch and drive line-out, again the conversion was wide. With half-time approaching Mitchell was shown a yellow card for a high tackle, but this did not stop the Penguins regaining the lead when young Scottish winger Ben Robbins finished off a nice piece of attacking play with Tremayne again on target with the conversion. With the clock ticking down and the referee indicating last play, Penguins captain and hooker Matt Price took it upon himself to kick the ball to touch to end the half, however to his and everyone else’s amazement he missed from just 10 metres away! The Czech team took advantage of this error and three minutes later were awarded a penalty which they duly converted to make the score at the interval 17 points to 13 in favour of the Penguins.
The second half saw both side make multiple changes which did nothing to help the flow of the game, but a yellow card for the Czech hooker, who had been chirpy all game, allowed an opportunity for the Penguins to take advantage of their numerical supremacy and Robbins added his second try with a length of the field effort which highlighted his raw speed. With him dotting down beneath he sticks, the conversion was simply a formality for Tremayne to add the extra two points. The Czech side would not lie down and with fresh legs on, their own winger scored a try but it was out wide and the conversion was again missed. With just six points between the sides going into the final ten minutes, it was still anyone’s game, but the visitors finished strongly and drew clear with just two minutes remaining when centre James Herbert retained his composure when chasing a kick ahead to secure the bouncing ball and score out wide, this time Tremayne could not add the conversion, but this completed the scoring to see the Penguins victorious by 29 points to 18.
Penguins starting XV:
1 Igino Corradi (Richmond) 2 Matt Price (Coventry) (Captain) 3 Jack Higgins (Coventry) 4 Andrew Grant (Oxford University) 5 Callum Marshall (Heriots) 6 Andrew Hunter (Cambridge University) 7 James Beaufils (Sydney University) 8 Nicolaas Uys (Sparta) 9 Will Crow (Rosslyn Park) 10 Brook Tremayne (Doha RFC) 11 Rory Steele (Watsonians) 12 James Herbert (GPS Brisbane) 13 Cameron Mitchell (Richmond) 14 Ben Robbins (Currie) 15 Jacques Flick (Tatra Smichov)
16 Stefan Gerber (Ricany) 17 Nathan Borel (Heriots) 18 Dan Parkinson (Richmond) 19 Jack Allcock (Richmond) 20 Callum Grant (Richmond) 21 Archie Russell (Cambridge University) 22 Matt Geiger (Altrincham & Kersal)
Head Coach: Steve Hill (Richmond)
Assistant Coach: Marcus Di Rollo (Watsonians)
Team Manager: Tim Stevens (Oxford University)