Israel’s national rugby team slammed Andorra 57-17 at the Rugby Europe International Championships in Netanya last Saturday, to improve its Conference 1 South Division record to 3-0.
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The team returned to action for the first time since a pair of wins last November, over Croatia and Cyprus, with a relatively young squad, according to Raanan Penn, Israel’s coach.
“There were 10 players under the age of 22,” he told Haaretz, noting that a few players were starting for the first time as representatives of Israel.
The end result was never really in doubt. “We took control of the game fairly quickly,” said Penn. “At the end of the first half and the beginning of the second, there were a few moments when they got closer, but we pulled away in the final 20 minutes.”
The outstanding players included captain Gilad Goldstein and vice-captain Adrian Rainstein.
Israel took a 10-3 lead on a try by Yuval Zidani about 18 minutes into the game, and then extended its advantage to 16-3 with a pair of penalty kicks. Andorra would never cut its deficit to single digits the rest of the match. Israel’s Ori Abutbul later added a try to make it 23-3 after the conversion kick, but Andorra pulled it back to 23-10 just before the end of the first half.
In the second half, Israel reeled off the first 12 points before Andorra scored a try and conversion to make it 35-17. However, Israel dominated down the stretch to win by 40.