AEK Athens and Rhodes Knights were crowned champions of the respective West and East divisions in Greece after thrilling Grand Finals.
At the Vrilissia Municipal Stadium in Athens, Aris led 14-0 at half time with experienced captain and national team player Aris Dardamanis dominating and one of their try scorers, to go with others by Thanos Lamprou and Paris Chronopoulos.
AEK responded with the backing of their large contingent of fans who did not stop singing and chanting throughout the match and got back to 14-10, thanks to a brace of tries from winger Iordanis Triantafyllou.
Loic Fuya extended the Aris lead after the break but unconverted touchdowns from Christos Loukakis and Stathis Daniiloglou set up a tense finish. With three minutes remaining, Triantafyllou completed his hat trick with a brilliant individual effort to score the winning try, the AEK fans wildly celebrating with flares and fireworks as their side triumphed 24-20.
Alex Alexiou, president of AEK Athletic Club was present at the match to congratulate the players and said: “The AEK players have made the club and our fans very proud by going the whole season undefeated and now winning the Grand Final.”
Rhodes produced a dominant first half performance to ensure victory at the Gkorytsa Stadium, Aspropyrgos. With the scores level 4-4 after 15 minutes, the Knights posted 24 unanswered points, Pantelis Tsattalios – who also kicked four goals, Nikos Hatzinikolaou, Dimos Kartsonakis, Andreas Kypriotis and Kostas Katsidonis adding to Nikos Bosmos early effort.
Rhinos rallied in the second half, scoring four tries from Ioannis Nake, Panos Kanellakis, Aris Koulizakis, and Haris Xygkas but were unable to convert any of them, Rhodes’s experience proving to be the difference in their 36-20 win.
Rhodes coach, Michalis Chatziioannou, commented: “It was a very tough final with very little separating the two teams. We made a good start, held possession and scored early on, which gave us a big psychological boost. In the second half, we made some errors, forcing us to have to defend a lot, which made us tired, but we had enough of a lead by then to hold on. I am happy that we executed a lot of what we had been working on at training. We will now start working towards improving for next season.”