Greece men hold on to defeat Norway in rugby league thriller

A try two minutes from time from Aris Eagles debutant Nikolaos Mavreas saw Greece hold off a determined challenge from Norway to win their men’s senior international, 34-26, at the Agios Dimitrios Municipal Stadium in Athens.

 

In a fiercely competitive contest in perfect conditions, winger Denis Galic was in outstanding form for the visitors, scoring a hat trick on his debut. Simon Olsen opened the scoring for Norway but two tries in four minutes at the end of the first half – one from outstanding skipper Robert Tuilatu – saw the hosts 22-12 ahead at the break.

 

They extended the lead at the start of the second period with Panagiotis Varypatis’s score but Norway hit back to make it 26-24 going into the final minutes, Jymaal Mellor-King – who kicked only one of six attempts at goal – then sinbinned for a high tackle which enabled Greece to secure the spoils.

 

Norway head coach, Liam Stead, commented: “It was a really competitive game that could have gone either way. Losing two important players for the rest of the match in the first ten minutes to injury put our backs against the wall, but the boys responded outstandingly to the adversity. Their heart and skill throughout the match showed the immense improvement we’ve made. Unfortunately, that didn’t the result in the win for us today, but we head into our next fixture more confident than ever.”

 

Greece coach/captain Tuilatu finished with two tries. “I’m very impressed with Norway’s performance,” he said. “They really pushed us until the final minute and we had to show a top effort. We weren’t comfortable at any point in the game, we really had to work for it. I want to thank them for traveling out.”

 

GREECE 34

Ioannis Nake, Georgios Chionis, Ioannis Fragkos, Panagiotis Varypatis, Alexandros Mikelopulos, Aris Dardamanis, Adam Vrahnos, Nectarios Tsakalos, Nikolaos Stefanou, Stefanos Bastas, Alexandros Aliu, Nikolos Mavreas, Robert Tuliatu

Subs: Athanasios Lamprou, Emmanouil Koufakis, Brandon Onyango, Petros Bafaloukas

 

Tries: Nake (11), Tuliatu (23, 34), Fragkos (38), Varypatis (43), Mavreas (78)

Goals: Vrahnos (3/4), Chionis (0/1), Tsakalos (2/2)

Sin bin: Mikelopulos (30 – late and high tackle)

 

NORWAY 26

Frank Kiriinya, Denis Galic, Arne Oma, Torsen Martin Hoyland, Magnus Lima Soiland, Jymaal Mellor-King, Stephen Mwikar, Mathias Vada, Stenseth-Holm Kristoffer, Milligan Nils Holte, Simon Olsen, Marius Odland Sagelv, Brett Harvey

Subs: Eric Mellor, Kristian Vanthe, Sveinung Fludal, Oliver Falk

 

Tries: Olsen (6), Galic (10, 57, 74), Lima Soiland (27), Martin Hoyland (63)

Goals: J. Mellor-King (1/6)

Sin bin: J. Mellor-King (76 – high tackle)

 

Half time: 22-12

 

Referee: Stephane Vincent (France)