The Cyprus national rugby team beat Hungary 46-13 in Paphos Saturday to extend their world record to 23 consecutive wins.
Scoring was opened after five minutes by number eight Constantinos Constantinides, who touched down after the Cypriot pack drove the Hungarian forwards back over their own line at an early scrum. However, the conversion was missed by full back Yiannis Loizia and the Hungarians responded immediately with a penalty goals by winger Gregoire Collet, cashing in some good early possession in Moufflon territory.
The early exchanges were nervy and marked by handling errors, typified by an early chance squandered in the corner by the Cyprus back three. However, young winger Fidias Efthymiou soon made good, the ‘Limassol Express’ crossing in the corner to take the score to 12-6, followed shortly by Andrew Binikos, the Moufflon playmaker touching down under the Hungarian posts, taking the score to 19-6, after the conversion by Loizia.
In a side featuring several new caps, scrum-half Burhan Torgut settled nerves in the island’s only pan-Cypriot team with assured distribution, while long-serving veteran centre George Agathocleous had an immaculate game, and was this correspondent’s man of the match, instrumental in most Moufflon manoeuvres either with quick hands or decisive breaks, while impenetrable in defence, marshaling the many younger players with aplomb. His fine passes and vision set up two tries, and he and fellow centre and newly appointed captain Alex Zavallis dominated the midfield, with or without the ball. Cyprus began to push Hungary back even while the visitors enjoyed good possession, albeit unable to make territorial gains.
Cyprus were always threatening on the break, with the backs regularly breaking through the Hungarian line, and more tries followed, including another by Efthymithou, taking the score to 29-6 at half time.
The pace of the first half and the searing Paphos heat took its toll on both sides in the second period, as play broke down with unforced errors. However, Cyprus recovered composure through another try by Binikos, converted by Loizias, and by an inspired break from one end of the pitch to the other by winger Matt King that nearly yielded points, before newly appointed captain Alex Zavallis crossed to stretch Cyprus lead beyond Hungary’s reach.
The visitors marked up a consolation try through flanker Almasi Bence, but Zavallis touched down a marvelous solo effort to round off a comprehensive victory and close the season as divisional champions for the third consecutive season.
Despite the game being shown on live TV in Cyprus, a record crowd turned out at the Paphiakos Stadium, including a healthy Hungarian contingent, led by their ambassador Mr Botos.