Thank you to Alexander Gordon for the Report and Photos: (Follow him on Twitter @big_phall)
The Netherlands men’s XV will have sent shock waves throughout Poule 1B in the European Nations he tournament favourites Moldova with relative ease.
Moldova had only lost one of their previous 10 matches and were undefeated this season, indeed in their 3 wins so far they had scored 156 points.
Their pack was supposed to be “unstoppable”. But at the NRCA in Amsterdam their forward progress was not only stopped but they couldn’t even manage a bonus point for losing having had a try bonus in each of their previous games.
Dutch coach, Alex Chang, had said before the match that he felt that Netherlands were much stronger in the back line than the visitors and that he was confident that his mobile pack could supply enough ball to give the “XV van Oranje” a platform for the win.
The Dutch were on the offensive from the kick-off and it wasn’t long before they were rewarded with a penalty in 5 minutes which gave Leon Koenen the opportunity to put the home side in the lead.
The Dutch showed that they were unafraid of the reputation of the Moldovan pack, which was missing a couple of professionals, but to most observers surprise the Dutch had the Moldovans under pressure, Hugo Langelaan and Andy Darlington from RC ‘t Gooi had their opposite numbers under tremendous pressure.
Koenen was unlucky in 16 minutes as he missed a penalty but the Dutch tactics saw them spending much of the match in the visitors half. The Moldovan back line seemed to struggle to know what to do with ball in hand and unforced errors under Dutch pressure kept them on the back foot.
The Netherlands opened the try scoring in 27 minutes when Koenen made a break on the right wing, and inside pass to Storm Carroll saw the stand-off burst through the cover before he gave the scoring pass to Dirk Danen and Netherlands had an 8 point lead.
A yellow card for Johan van Vliet in 31 minutes put the team under pressure close to their own line. The Moldovans were over the line within a minutes but the battling Dutch defence held the Moldovan forwards up over the line.
Indeed such was the superb performance of the Dutch defence that Moldova were held up over the line 6 times and they big pack simply had no answer to the physicality of the Dutch side.
Moldovan hooker receive Yellow Card in 37 minutes and so it was 14 a side for 4 minutes.
The Dutch carried on putting on the pressure, coming close when Koenen was tackled into touch. There was a knock on from the line-out and the Dutch won the scrum. They recycled a couple of times before the ball came out left.
Carroll broke past his cover and spotting the chance kicked the ball toward the goal line. Sep Visser put on a burst of pace and beat his opposite number who seemed unsure how to react to Carroll’s kick and Visser won the sprint to touchdown.
Going in at half-time Netherlands were 13-0 ahead.
Moldova came out in a fiercer fashion in the second half but all their effort came through the pack and they didn’t have a Plan B.
The Dutch had been soaking up the pressure but they lost No. 8, Stefan Vos, to a Yellow Card in 50 minutes. From the subsequent scrum and after a couple of mauls Moldova finally opened the scoring in 53 minutes when their Captain, Veaceslav Titica, was over for a try from close range.
Moldova had their best period and won a number of penalties which they kicked to touch, had hey taking a shot at goal, they could have narrowed the score. As it was continued handling errors saw any positional thereat fall short.
Just after the hour it seemed that Visser was clear through to score on ball from Koenen but the scoring pass was judged forward.
Carroll was magnificent in his tactical kicking which Moldova struggled with, in his movement of the line bringing his wings into play or running and making the line-break himself.
Twice he broke the line with limited support but the visitors had no answer to his play.
In 72 minutes it fell to Koenen to effectively kill the tie. An attacking Dutch scrum saw Rik van Balkom break from the base passing to Carroll. The stand-off stepped up into the break passing Rik Roovers who in turn released Koenen who went over for his sides 3rd try.
As full-time loomed, the Moldovan’s went over for a second score as Titica secured a consolation try but the match had been over for the visitors for some time as their body language showed.
It was a highly satisfying win considering the very narrow losses against Poland and Belgium and sets the team up well for the long trip to Ukraine in May.
Netherlands 18 Moldova 10
Tries: Danen 27, Visser 40, Koenen 72
Pen: Koenen 5
Tries: Titica 53, 79