Balkan Super League Week 1 Preview

Balkan Super League

This Sunday, history is made with the start of the Balkan Super League. In a split round of games, the first weekend of the competition sees Partizan Belgrade playing away to Vitez in Bosnia, and the 32nd edition of the “Long” Rivalry between Dorcol and Red Star.

The Dorcol vs Red Star Rivalry and Vitez vs Partizan

Already in 2017, we’ve seen two matches between these sides. Dorcol won the super cup in February with a last-minute try, but Red Star avenged that defeat in a second half display that they will be hoping to recoup. The final score in the Round 2 Serbian Rugby League contest was an amazing 50-20, especially considering Dorcol led 16-14 well into the second half. Dorcol are the pride of the Serbian Rugby League, having represented in all Grand Final’s in the past 15 years and they hold a 24-7 record in head-to-head matches, but the gap has closed considerably. Red Star now shading Dorcol with a 6-4 record in the last 10 games between the two sides.

From the long rivalry, to a new one! This will be the first competitive match between Vitez and Partizan. Partizan are arguably the in-from team in 2017 in the Serbian Rugby League. Their results in the last two rounds have been strong, and they could have defeated Red Star in the drawn derby match if their goal kicker was more accurate. Vitez have been developing their rugby league team for several years. This will be an interesting match at 1400 CET, live on sportuzivo.com.

What Have We Learned So Far in 2017?

Dorcol’s last round match against Partizan was postponed, so Dorcol’s last game was against Red Star in Round 2 of the Serbian Rugby League. Red Star did play their round 3 match, but were well below their best against away to Radnicki Nis, losing 24-18. Both teams have massive points to prove this week. Of the three major Belgrade teams, Partizan are currently the team with the best overall form. The difference between both Dorcol’s and Red Star’s best and lowest performances has been greater than what their coaching staff would like. While the season is still young, there is plenty of time for both teams to work on their games.

The Men to Watch

For Dorcol, Ognjen Dacic scored two tries in a losing team against Red Star. In their previous match, Boris Lazin scored heavily with four tries in their win over Radnicki Nis. For Red Star, winger Rajko Trifunovic also crossed the line twice in a losing team. The player I believe will have a strong impact for Red Star is Nenad Zujic. This strong running prop forward had a great game against Dorcol in his previous round and was one of the Red Star players who was missed by his teammates. For Partizan, Pero Madjarevic scored five tries from the centre position against Radnicki Nis. Vitez will need to mark him strongly this weekend.

The Magic Numbers 

For the Red Star vs Dorcol match, my magic numbers this week are 6 and 54. I believe there will be around 54 points scored in total, with a winning margin in this game of 6 points. Points will come in bursts, with a fair amount of nerves in varying stages of the match. The team that settles down the quickest, and for the longest period during the game will have the edge.

For the Vitez vs Partizan match, my magic numbers are 4 and 40. One of Partizan’s outside backs will have a strong game in this match and notch 4 tries in a good personal display. Partizan’s experience in the Serbian Rugby League should see them score over 40 points. This will be a big learning experience for Vitez, who will become a strong club if the Balkan Super League takes hold and grows in the future.

Good Luck Tipping a Winner

The Dorcol vs Red Star match is extremely difficult to pick. Both teams have had one great result each, one good result and one poor result. This match is a definite flip of the coin. I’ve changed my mind four times on the outcome, and that’s just while I was writing this feature…

For game two, look to Partizan to continue their great early season form, but Vitez will put in a performance that makes their team, supporters and management proud. It’s a long road to the top in rugby league, and the expectation for Vitez in 2017 should be to push the Belgrade sides and to win against the other international opposition.

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