The Tel-Aviv Heat made history as a team as they secured their first ever win, defeating Russian outfit Enisei-STM, 34-31.
The Heat travelled to Russia to face a side unbeaten in their opening two matches, scoring an impressive 66 points and only conceding 27 and having recently won the Russian Championship.
Having played their first ever match in the defeat to Black Lion, The Heat were looking to get their first points on the board of the Eastern Conference pool and more importantly, get their first win as a team.
This game was crucial to the Heat’s prospects of making it out of the pool and making a good start against their closest rivals in the pool would give them the upper-hand, and put all the pressure on the other teams.
The opening quarter of an hour gave both teams an opportunity to get a feel of the ball and test the opposition’s defence, however, in the 16th minute, the deadlock was broken by the home team.
Enisei threw a near-perfect line-out from the 22-metre line which put the Heats defence under immediate pressure.
Before they could organize themselves, Earll Douwrie darted towards the try line and despite the best efforts of Ethan Jeffery to bring him down, he went over for the first try of the game.
With a successful conversion scored by Enisei, the Heat had to respond quickly and they did.
A foul by the men in blue gave Heat kicker Jordan Chait a chance of scoring 3 points, which he converted with ease.
Chait was again called upon in the 24th minute when the Heat found themselves driving a maul following a successful lineout, and overpowered their opponents to cross the line for their first try of the match.
Just 7 minutes later and the Heat extended their lead to 9 points with another try.
Another well-drilled lineout and a fantastic, defence splitting run from Gabriel Ibitoye, who managed to offload the ball to Sebastiaan Jobb and give him a free run to the try line.
Another successful conversion from Chait made the score 7-17, and the Heat were in cruise control against the Russian Champions.
Soon after, Ibotoye turned creator to scorer.
After a deep kick from Chait put the Enisei defence in a panic Douwrie, scorer of Enisei’s’ try, spilled the catch, allowing Ibotoye to react quickest and give him a free run under the goalposts.
Chait, who was putting in a quality kicking performance, put the ball through the posts once again, meaning the Heat had scored 24 points without return.
Heat Head Coach, Kevin Musikanth, wouldn’t have been happy with how his side couldn’t keep Enisei’s score from increasing before the half was finished.
Just 2 minutes before the end of the half, Enisei scored from a maul of their own with Pieter Jacobs going over for his side’s second try of the match.
The teams headed into the dressing room with only 10 points separating them and the game evenly balanced.
The Heat team knew that Enesei, with their experience and support of the fans, would come out firing and they did it with aplomb.
Just 2 minutes into the second half, the home team won a scrum 10 metres from the Heat try line and following some intense tackles just short of the line, they found space on the wing to cross over.
To make matters worse, the Heat were handed a sin bin and had to play with a man down for 10 minutes.
This gave Enisei the chance to make their advantage count and they did through Davit Meskhi.
Enisei stretched the Heat defence with a string of passes which gave Meskhi too much space down the wing to score, leaving the defenders in his tracks.
With a little over 10 minutes to go and their sin binned player back on the pitch, the Heat were able to take advantage of Enisei having a man down injured to hit back with a try of their own through Jobb.
Jobb found space on the wing to run through, he kicked the ball over the defence before collecting again and crossing the try line for his second of the match, and arguably the move of the day.
A successful kick at goal from Chait after a high tackle on Kieran Houlston in the 74th minute made it very difficult for Enisei to believe they could get back into this game, as they trailed by 8 points.
Despite a last gasp try from the home side which gave them a bonus point for tries scored, the Heat had done enough to secure the win and make history, winning a match for the first time ever.
The win meant the Heat were up to 3rd in the table with a match in hand on top of the table team, Enisei.
Their next match will be against another Russian team, Lokomotiv Penza, who are currently bottom of the group.
Head Coach Kevin Musikanth commented: “A win does wonders for any team.
“This one was extra special, being a historic one for our club.
“A first only happens once and this was our first.
“The fact that we played the team that is top of the log, unbeaten and recent winners of the Russian Championship the week prior made it extra special.
“The travel has had its challenges but the spirit in the camp is high and we look forward to Locomotive Penza the runners up of the Russian league this weekend, before the mid-season super cup break.
“A tough team from Penza and the team is preparing hard to continue our trajectory of improvement every week.
“The leadership of Nic Groom has been exceptional all round and Tel-Aviv Heat stars Gabriel Ibitoye and Josh Strauss spearheading our victory on the weekend.
“We look forward to this coming weekend.”