Wednesday 28 September 2016

Historic first victory for brave Russians

John Fallon

Published 18/12/2015 | 02:30

Connacht's Denis Buckley, left, and Aly Muldowney attempt to keep warm on the team bench during their victory in Siberia last month
Connacht's Denis Buckley, left, and Aly Muldowney attempt to keep warm on the team bench during their victory in Siberia last month

Anyone from Connacht who was in Siberia last month for Enisei-STM's historic first match in Europe will appreciate what it must have meant to the Russians at the weekend when they defeated Brive.

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The French, flying high in the Top 14, may have sent an understrength side to Russia, but they would still have expected to defeat a side whose season ended last September and who have been trying to keep their squad together in the midst of the harshness of a Sibernian winter.

Unlike the Connacht game, which took place at Enisei-STM's home city of Krasnoyarsk, the match against Brive, as will their final home pool match next month against Newcastle Falcons, was staged at the Winter Olympic venue Sochi.

That's a distance of over 5,000km - you could drive it non-stop in about 65 hours - that Enisei-STM travelled to play a home match, but they made it all worthwhile when they triumphed 10-7.

Hooker Nazir Gasanov was the hero for the Russians when he got their only try. Out-half Iurii Kushnarev converted and also added a penalty to lead 10-0 at the break.

Replacement hooker Thomas Acquier responded with a try for Brive in the second half which Nicholas Bezy converted but they were unable to deny the Russians a famous win. Brive, who have now lost two of their three European games this season, will host the Russians tomorrow.

But their primary aim at this stage might be the Top 14.

They are currently fifth and face key festive matches away to Castres and home to Montpellier.

Irish Independent

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