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Match Summary Blog - Tel Aviv Heat vs Black Lion

On a hot day in Kutaisi, Georgia, the Tel Aviv Heat battled defending Rugby Europe Super Cup champions Black Lion down to the wire, resulting in a scintillating 25-25 draw.

The Heat set the tone at the outset, winning a scrum penalty 3 minutes into the game, which Heat fly half Jordan Chait quickly converted into 3 points. Six minutes later, another penalty kick by Chait ricocheted off the goal post.

Having settled into the game, Black Lion tied the score at 3-3 13 minutes in with a penalty kick in the 13th minute and then followed up a few minutes late with multi=phase play off a lineout deep in Heat territory to set up the first try of the game out wide. The conversion by fly half Luka Matkava put Black Lion up 10-3.

Photos by Irakli Tkemaladze

Both sides traded physical collisions and hotly contested breakdowns until Heat Captain and flanker Prince Gaoseb was sent off in the 24th minute with a yellow card for not rolling away from a breakdown a few meters out from the Heat goal line. Strong goal line defense over the next few minutes finally led the Black Lion to opt for a kick for posts to go up 13-3 in the 29th minute.

Though down a man, the Heat battled back to go on attack.

Photos by Irakli Tkemaladze

A massive 50-22 kick from winger Jamba Ulengo set up a Tel Aviv Heat lineout within the Black Lion’s 22m. Solid execution from hooker Dameon Venter to look Max Katjijeko at the back set up a strong rolling maul that ended with flanker Mitchell Carstens dotting down for the Heat’s first try of the day to bring them within three points after Chait’s conversion.

A few minutes later, turnover ball got the Heat on the front foot, with Bradley Thain probing the Black Lion defense to set up Jamba Ulengo for a line break before connecting to fullback Sebastiaan Jobb, who finished off with a blistering run through a narrow gap in the Black Lion defensive line from 35m out for the second try in five minutes. Another successful conversion by Chait put the Heat up 17-13 going into halftime.

Photos by Irakli Tkemaladze

For the first 10 minutes of the second half, neither side seemed to mount any threat on attack. Then a grubber by Chait pinned the Black Lion deep. After several phases, centre Jone Manu absorbed three defenders before delivering a beautiful backhanded offload to Peceli Nacebe on the wing for a flying dive into the Black Lion’s goal to extend the Heat’s lead to 22-13.

In the 53rd minute another yellow card issued to centre Nemani Buliruarua for playing man without the ball meant the Heat had to scramble on defense. After successfully defending their goal for several minutes, the Heat could not match the Black Lion in the backline, as the ball spun out wide for a second Black Lion try in the corner, tightening the score to 22-18.

Photos by Irakli Tkemaladze

With six minutes left in the game, the Black Lion conceded their second scrum penalty of the game, enabling Chait to once again slot a penalty kick and extend the Heat’s lead to 25-18.

As time wound down, the Heat struggled to exit from deep in their own territory, allowing Black Lion fullback Mirian Modebadze to launch an effective counterattack. Multiple phases of attack finally had the Black Lion break the Heat’s line of defense, resulting in a try by reserve prop Dato Abdushelishvili. The successful conversion tied the score at 25-25.

With just over a minute left, TAH regained possession off the restart and a high tackle by the Black Lion set up a penalty kick attempt about 30m out, just to the right of the sticks. Chait, who had bravely battled flu symptoms throughout the game, pushed the kick wide right.

Photos by Irakli Tkemaladze

The Tel Aviv Heat battled hard throughout the full 80 minutes and showed continued progress in set piece play, defensive cohesion, and attacking shape. In addition to the attacking prowess of the backline, strong performances from Man of the Match flanker Mitchell Carstens and the rest of the forward pack demonstrated that the Heat are strong contenders for the title in Season 2.

Photos by Irakli Tkemaladze

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