By Stuart McLennan Twitter @discomclennan
The Attica Rhinos remain unbeaten after two rounds of the Greek rugby league championship defeating the Patras Panthers 52-4 in Athens on Saturday night.
In an entertaining display in damp conditions at Agios Kosmas, the Rhinos scored nine tries to one continuing their good form from pre-season.
With a glut of possession in the first half, due to unforced Patras errors, Attica jumped to the lead early when speedy back Andreas Shakaj crossed the line in the third minute.
Both Shakaj and Panagiotis Kanellakis were at their best in the first half grabbing a double each before the break.
Kanellakis was playing his first game of the season after being drafted in to the army in May and only being able to attend training for the first lime last Thursday. He returns to the army this week.
Rhinos halfback George Stilianos employed a smart kicking game that troubled the opposition under lights in wet conditions.
With the scoreline 30-4 at the break the game was all but over but to the the credit of Patras they improved their performance in the second stanza reducing errors and tightening up their defence.
Fullback Mohammed Arikat was dangerous every time he touched the ball for Patras making a number of incisive runs before incurring a knee injury just before full
Greek national team front rower Kostas Georgogalas was unable to make the trip from Patras due to family olive harvesting commitments.
Rhinos captain Johny Nake successfully returned from injury, controlling the ruck, scoring two individual tries and saving a couple of tries with last ditch efforts.
Nake felt that he had “held back a bit” after returning from a broken jaw but was happy with the team’s performance. The Rhinos hooker also coaches the team and is reaping the benefits of recent RLEF coach education.
Patra captain Christos Aznaouridis was proud of the efforts of his team who were playing only their second game of league after switching from rugby union this season.
“We know what is required and we get the process right at training but it is different in a match situation.
“We made too many errors tonight but each game is a learning experience for us.”
The match featured a couple of impressive debuts.
Rhinos forward Ioannis Zevgolis played his first game of rugby league at age 38.
The first female rugby league match official in Greece, Zoe Valassa, completed her first game as a touch judge.
Rhodes Knights vs Aris Eagles on 10 December in Rhodes will complete the second round.
Attica Rhinos 52 (Shakaj 3’ 14’; Kanellakis 13’ 26’; Nake 18’ 39’; Xygkas 48’ 50’; Malai 54’ tries, Stilianos 8 goals)
Patras Panthers 4 ( Karaiskakis 17’ try)