The 500+ highly vocal crowd turned out in initially rainy conditions for the first visit by a Swedish team to Danish shores, with the Swedes hoping to overturn a heavy, home defeat (8-52) in Gothenburg last year.
As a great sign of future development of the game in Denmark, local junior schools played an often highly spirited game of ‘flag rugby’ as a pre-game warm-up for the crowd and, as one unlucky youngster found out, ‘flag rugby’ does not always mean no contact (only a little hurt pride in the end). Sporting Danish youth was on show again when the Copenhagen Rockets cheerleaders enthusiastically escorted both senior teams on for the singing of the national anthems and they also led the half time entertainment. The Danish anthem was sung live by professional vocalist Louise Stenger Grann.
The traditionally slow-starting Danes received the kick in ever-improving weather conditions and surprised everyone with a storming first set, which ended with a powerful, bursting run and try from Danish forward Tom Hobbs. This style of power running set the pattern of play for the day for both teams, with the greasy under-foot conditions not encouraging expansive passing play.
As the score line suggests, try scoring opportunities for the Danes came at regular intervals, and were rarely missed. The free-running style of play being matched by ferocious tackling by the Danish forwards.
The first half was punctuated by both teams failing to cope with a greasy ball, each giving the ball away at critical moments through knock-ons in bone-crunching tackles – the long-standing local Viking rivalry still very much apparent on this field of battle.
Although effectively over as a competition approaching half time, the Swedes, under the captaincy of Christian Skogholm, continued to press at the Danish defence. They were rewarded by mustering their forces at the Danish line and their Vice Captain/trainer, Scott Edwards, dived under the Danish defensive line for a try. This endeavour by the Swedes was repeated later in the second half but on both occasions the conversion kicks failed to reached their targets.
Once the ground conditions started to improve in the second half, both teams started to move the ball out wide to take the pressure off the forwards. As time went on, and with the points margin being sowide, the Danes allowed themselves to engage in more adventurous passing play –with the result that the Danish centres, Andreas Clippet-Jensen (a hat-trick oftries in four minutes) and Silas Mubanda, were able to create sufficient panic and space in the Swedish defensive line to jointly cross the line six times in the second half.
It was almost impossible to single-out a defining moment or player on the Danish team as five players scored three or more tries. However, the vision and dynamic running of Danish scrum half, Viiga Lima (four tries and a 100% conversion rate from six kicks) played a key part in many crucial plays and break-through runs.
Where you can see the Danish Lions this year:
Denmark are now looking forward to their visit to play Malta on the evening of Saturday, 9th June. The Lions are expecting a much tougher and more tactical game, and some local support from the Maltese Nordic Bar – the ‘social home’ of Malta RL. July 20 sees the Lions visit the UK, when they will play the Royal Airforce. This is hoped to be a curtain-raiser game for a Leeds Rhinos, Stobart Super League game. Norway hosts the Lions on August 18 in Oslo for the final game in the Nordic Cup – Denmark defending the crown of Scandinavian Champions, and Norway seeking to overturn last year’s defeat in Copenhagen. September sees a return to home competition for the Lions, when they will host the return fixture against Malta, a London Skolars Select team and the British Royal Airforce development team.
Denmark: (54) 122
Tries: T. Hobbs (2, 20, 70) M. Scott-Pedersen (7, 23, 73) V. Lima (14, 27, 47, 75) A. Clippet-Jensen (17,58, 60, 61) C. Headquist (30, 34) S. Mumbanda (32, 45, 49, 80) B. Vibe (43) J. Whitehead (51)
Conversions: R. Groom 8 from 11 V. Lima: 6 from 6 B. Gernon: 1 from 2 C. Woods: 1 from 1 J. Whitehead: 1 from 1
Tries: S.Edwards (38), J.Meredith (67)
Referee: Warren Heilig (Norway)
Assistants: Mark Hewson (England) and Mike Vestorp (Denmark).
Denmark: J. Whitehead, A. Clipet-Jensen, M. Power, R. Groome, M. Pedersen-Scott, R. Thor-Nordvang, V.Lima, T. Hobbs, T. Topper, N. Kitching (trainer), S. Borregaard-Clarke, E. Hanrahan (captain). Replacements (from): A. Woods, B. Vibe, B. Gernon, C. Woods, C. Headquist, D. Thut, H. Bowler, H. Mulipola, M. Nielsen, N. Jarden, G. Larsen, R, Tudor, S. Mumbanda.
Sweden: M. Svensson, R. Svensson, S. Edwards, J. Cort, N. Blom, D. Fitzerald, M. Browning, A. Schultz, M. Jansson, D. Lergesjoe, C. Skogholm (captain), R. Leishman, J. Meredith. Replacements (from): N. Rick, S. Lidberg, S. Josefsson.
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