Red Devils’ Craig Kopczak starred for Wales as they got their World Cup Qualifying campaign off to a flyer with a 50-0 win over Serbia.
Koppy followed up his tremendous season at the Devils with a starting role at prop for the Welsh and lead from the front as the home team dismantled their opponents in both halves.
Match report by Ryan Gould at Parc Stebonheath
Wales started the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers in the best possible way, as they produced a professional display to dismantle Serbia 50-0.
After having to defend their line early on, The Dragons dominated the remainder of the first-half as they led 20-0 at the break, before they really began to tear the Serbians apart in the second period.
Both teams had tries disallowed early on; first, Gil Dudson’s effort for Wales was chalked off because of a forward pass in the build-up and then Serbia were adjudged to have knocked the ball on over the line.
Wales did manage to cross the whitewash soon after, though, when Rhodri Lloyd laid a try on a plate for Rhys Williams, who extended his tally at the top of The Dragons’ all time try-scoring chart.
It didn’t take him long to build on it; after a nice break from Elliot Kear had set up space down the left flank, Williams crossed in the corner, taking his Wales career tries to 18.
Wales were then camped in their own half for around five minutes, but they defended their line valiantly and managed to add their third try of the afternoon on the back of it.
They shifted the ball through Davies and Andrew Gay and the ball eventually fell to Regan Grace, who cut inside and beat two Serbian backs on his way to the line.
Within a matter of minutes, Wales were over again when Olds collected White’s quick pass out of acting half and broke a tackle to crash over the line.
Kear’s men had further possession as the half drew to a close, but they didn’t manage to get over the line again and went in to the interval with a 20-0 lead.
Wales started the second-half with real intent and, as a chance looked to have gone when the ball found Grace with little space on the wing, he managed to chip the ball inside. The Serbians fumbled the ball near their line, but Davies’ touchdown was ruled out for a knock-on.
Davies made no mistake soon after, however, when he finished off a superb team move and arguably the try of the day; Phil Joseph did well to keep the ball alive, before Elliot Kear’s pass set Williams free and Davies was in support to score.
Serbia were then reduced to 12 men as Pero Madžarević was sin-binned for a trip on Kear. However, it could and probably should have been red; the Wales fullback had broken the line and was set to cross for a four-pointer.
With the man advantage, The Dragons made Serbia pay and went over for another try through Gay, who collected the ball from first receiver, fooled the defence and dived over in the corner.
Then, Grace grabbed his second of the day as, from a 20-metre re-start, Kear floated out a pass and the winger collected to race 70 metres upfield and touched down.
After that, Wales had two tries disallowed – Matty Fozard and Davies both denied by the referee – before the green light was given to an effort by Ollie Olds, who reclaimed a kick that was dropped by Vladislav Dedić to score.
A good afternoon’s work for the Welsh was rounded off by Dudson, who collected a lovely cut-out pass from White to crash over. It was just reward for a forward who continually plugged away in the pack.
1. Elliot Kear
2. Rhys Williams
4. Christiaan Roets
18. Andrew Gay
5. Regan Grace
6. Courtney Davies
7. Ollie Olds
8. Gil Dudson
9. Lloyd White
10. Craig Kopczak
11. Rhodri Lloyd
15. Joe Burke
13. Phil Joseph
14. Steve Parry
16. Jake Emmitt
17. Ant Walker
19. Matty Fozard
Tries: Williams (12, 19), Grace (28, 56), Olds (33, 69), Davies (46), Gay (52), Dudson (76)
Goals: White (4/6), Davies (3/3)
1. Vladislav Dedić
2. Joshua Marjanović
3. Miloš Ćalić
4. Stevan Stevanović
5. Pero Madžarević
6. Daniel Burke
7. Dalibor Vukanović ©
8. David Andjelić
9. Vojislav Dedić
10. Jordan Grant
11. Chad Grant
12. Jason Muranka
13. Stefan Nedeljković
14. Ilija Radan
15. James Mirceski
16. Reece Grkinić
17. Džavid Jašari
Sin-bin: Madžarević (51/trip)
Referee: Chris Campbell