The GB Lions are competing for a shot at the European Championships this week, however earlier in the month the other Group B European Championships Qualifying Tournament took place in Italy, with the top-seeded Italians playing hosts to Israel, Serbia and Switzerland.
The tournament provides a great insight as to how this weekend’s fixtures will work.
The tournament is structured in two rounds. Initially the top seed (Italy in this case, GB in our own tourney) takes on the bottom, and the two middle seeds go head to head.
To stand a chance of EC qualification you have to win this first game – with the two victors then duelling it out for the opportunity to take on either Sweden or Denmark for a place in the 2017 Championships.
The Host side started out strong, bullying the less experienced Israeli team, while the Swiss found themselves shutdown by the Serbians.
(#1) Italy 40-10 (#4) Israel
(#2) Serbia 17-0 (#3) Switzerland
This meant the Swiss and the Israelis would duke it out for third place, and it was clear the Israeli’s hearts were no longer in it – dominated by Team Switzerland.
In the Championship game, hosts Italy had to fight hard for the win. The Italians initially took complete control of the game, with a commanding 17-0 lead going into the fourth quarter – but the Serbs were far from done! The Italians defence clearly tiring, the Serbs powerful run game suddenly started finding room, rushing and passing for scores, reducing Italy’s lead to just three – but with little time on the clock. The Serbian side kicked long, trusting in the defence to get the ball back, but the Italians managed to grab a first down and looked to kneel out the clock. A little bit of controversy to round of the game as the Serbs tried to disrupt the kneel. Flags flew, but both times against the underdog Serbs, running off the clock.
(#3)Switzerland 51-0 Israel (#4)
(#1) Italy 17-14 Serbia (#2)
Full game tape of the tournament can be viewed below, provided by IFL Magazine TV (the sexier accented and better funded Italian version of DC)