Date: 12 May 2012
Venue: Suur-Ranavara Stadium, Tallinn.
Match Officials: Referee: George Mossford. Linesmen: Ashwath Venkatasubramanian and Lauri Laaniste.
Coach: Zaza Dzidzadze
Coach: Niall Doherty
After a week of sunshine it was a grey and overcast day for Estonia’s second home International friendly, this time against Turkey. Turkey is, as Estonia, a fairly new team. The purpose of their small tour of the eastern region of Europe, visiting both Slovenia and Estonia, was to test themselves in preparation for their inclusion into FIRA-AER this summer.
The visitors arrived early in the week and ran out a couple of training sessions, many of their players coming in from their clubs around Turkey, Germany, the U.K. and a few from the Pro 2 Leagues in France.
As the Estonian team disembarked from the coach at the stadium they were greeted with the site of the Turks already well into a very serious and impressive warm up. The referee, George Mossford briefed his assistants, the anthems were sung with pride and the scoreboard set to zero, and the game began.
Turkey won the toss and chose to kick to the Estonian forwards who promptly fondled the ball allowing Turkey’s number 11, Mustafa Kemal Kurt to drop over the line for the first try (3 mins). From the restart Estonia started to work out the pre match nerves and started to compete at the rucks, starting to gel as a team that has limited chances to train together. A loose ball and a deft pick up by the Turks saw a second try on 8 mins, the conversion was missed. The Turks pressured the Estonian line and were held out well, with some good tackling and ruck work stopping the Turks from getting quick ball. It wasn’t until the 27th minute that the Turks final broke through a hole in the defense to score again, number 7, Salim Cayus sliding through the gap to score nearer to the posts. The conversion from number 10, Ali Bökeyhan Sürer bisecting the uprights beautifully. The Estonians fought back bravely, never losing their spirit and continued to ruck hard and scrumage better than they have ever done before, never really being threaten at all in the scrums. Line outs went well but it was another 5 minutes before the Turks exploited a space in the backs scoring another try with number 3, Dinçhan Kilercio─člu. The conversion from Ali floated over for the extra points. With the first half coming to a close the Estonians battled their way up field and, after a quick tap and go from number 12, Kullar Veersalu, strung together a series of passes from one side of the pitch to the other, a line that saw forwards in the back line passing like backs, that ended with Estonia’s number 11, Ott-Erik Kalmus going over in the corner for Estonia’s first and only points on the 39th minute. The conversion from number 10, Dato Dzidzadze was always going to be difficult on a windy day. First half score Turkey 22 : Estonia 5.
The second half started with gusto, Estonia chasing down Dato’s restart and putting in some enthusiastic rucking. The Turks forcing errors and exploiting them quickly slid over for another try after 5 mins. Scorer, number 13, Roman Güllübae. Now kicking into the wind Ali first attempt of the half went astray. He had another chance soon after from an infringement at the ruck by Estonia within his range. This time his accuracy was good, 3 more points. It was another 20 minutes of end to end rugby, with domination in the scrums and lineouts and fierce tackling in the open before Turkey managed to break the line once more. Number 5, Mehmet Akif Ersoy going over for another try, with Ali’s kick once again foiled by the wind. With 10 minutes to go and some foul play at a ruck the Referee deemed that number 8, Tim Shepherd to have infringed again and a second yellow was added to his first from the previous half, Estonia were now down to 14 men. Estonia’s coach, Zsazsa Dzidzadze chose this time to blood some young players and rested some of the older heads, substitutes made Turkey ran in two final tries within the last 5 minutes, Ali added one conversion. Final score; Turkey 47: Estonia 5.
It was one of those games where the score really does not reflect the game, both teams battled hard but there can only be one winner on the day.
The Estonian Rugby Union would like to thank the Turkish Rugby Union and its players and coaches for making the trip north. They really entered into the spirit of rugby. Thanks must also go to the guys and girls of the Estonian Rugby Union for the pitch organization.
A most emphatic thank you must also go to Mr. Chris Holtby, OBE and his wife Polly, of the British Embassy, Tallinn for opening their home to all the players and staff for a most excellent barbeque reception. But, the most important thank you must go to the players of both teams, without whom there would be no rugby to play, watch or support.
Technical Director of Rugby, Estonia.
Thank you all for your continued support of Estonian Rugby.