Saturday proved to be another thriller of a day at the Euros with a number of tightly-contested battles across the different groups.
Switzerland were the big winners of the day, breezing their way past Slovenia with a monstrous 23-1 demolition. Meanwhile, tournament favourites Team England Men’s Lacrosse continued their 100% win ratio with a huge 17-2 win against the Czech Republic. Scotland also maintained their perfect record, scoring 2 in the last 5 minutes to pip Norway to a 12-10 victory in a game in which the lead changed hands continuously throughout. Germany asserted their authority over Italy with a dominating 15-2 win whilst Poland followed suit with a 10-3 win over France. Latvia bounced back from their defeat against England with a confidence-boosting 15-2 hammering of Hungary and Austria made light work of their Danish opponents, winning 15-7 in a game which they led from start to finish. Russia registered their first win of the tournament win 9-4 against Slovakia – we’ll talk more about Russia in a blog later on today…
The two most exciting games of the day were, as we predicted, the Wales National Lacrosse Team – Ireland Lacrosse clash and the España Lacrosse– Belgium Lacrosse battle, both of which treated the fans to hard-fought and closely-contested matches to savour.
In the 11:30 game, Belgium opened the game up with a goal straight from the face-off before Spain equalised 2 minutes later with a trademark finish from the mercurial Dani De La Casa. Belgium then scored a brace before De La Casa bagged his second of the day to take the tie into a 3-2 lead in favour of the Belgians. Belgium then rocketed into the lead in the second quarter with Tibor Van den Wildenbergh scoring a hat-trick, coupled with a further 2 Belgian goals to take a 6-goal lead before De La Casa responded to reduce the deficit to 8-3 at half-time. Belgium started the second half as they started the first, with a goal from Kyle Baker restoring their 6-goal lead before De La Casa took it upon himself to spearhead a Spanish Revolution, kicking off a 3-goal run before the quarter ended with the Spanish continuing with a further 4 after the break to take the lead for the first time in the game. Belgium were not to be outdone though and Kyle Baker again replied to tie the game up at 10-10 and take it into overtime! De La Casa again struck shortly after the break to register his incredible 8th (!!) of the game but his heroic performance wasn’t enough to get the Spaniards their first win of the tournament as Baker struck his 6th to kill the Spain hopes after an Emile Drijvers equaliser. Belgium taking a 12-11 win in a furious battle to get their first W of the tournament.
If the Spain-Belgium game was one of cut-throat attacking prowess, the Wales-Ireland battle was one of defensive discipline and a war of attrition with long, drawn-out possessions culminating in a low-scoring one for the defenders to be proud of. Ireland opened up the scoring with 3-time European Championship veteran Sean Gibson bagging his first of the day after 7 minutes, adding a further 2 to his personal tally after the break to open up a 3-0 lead before Rhodri Stanford reduced the deficit to take the game into a 3-1 Irish lead at half-time. Eoin Dunne further reduced the gap shortly after half-time for the Welsh before Aaron Cahill responded to reinstate the 2-goal cushion. Paul Simpson replied for Wales but Sean Gibson capped an excellent personal performance by registering his 4th of the day to put Ireland 5-3 up after 55 minutes. The final quarter was a combination of rock-solid defensive duties and cagey attacking possessions and in the end it was the defences who won, both of whom keeping a clean sheet in the last 20 to keep the score at 5-3 at the final whistle, much to the delight of the assembled Irish fanbase.
Our performance with our predictions from Saturday leaves a lot to be desired and with us only correctly predicting 5/10 results (and AGAIN calling the Welsh game incorrectly!), we are hoping that we will get back on track with our predictions for Sunday’s games as follows:-
France 5 – 16 Finland
Slovenia 4 – 12 Spain
Netherlands 16 – 5 Slovakia
Norway 12 – 3 Austria
Denmark 5 – 16 Wales
Belgium 4 – 18 Israel
Czech Republic 18 – 4 Hungary
Russia 10 – 7 Poland
Sweden 14 – 8 Switzerland
Italy 3 – 20 Latvia
Our picks of the day will be the Russia-Poland clash and Sweden playing Switzerland in their bid to continue their 100% win record. Check back tomorrow to see how Saturday pans out!
Pic of LTP Big Dog Sam Russell courtesy of the 2016 European Lacrosse Championship