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Baltic Handball League
BHL Newsletter: five BHL teams in action in European competitions
One week after the Baltic Handball League's 2019/20 season fully kicked off, there were more international matches for BHL teams. Four clubs started and one continued their European campaign in either EHF Cup or EHF Challenge Cup.
One of the five sides in action last weekend already qualified to the next round, as Granitas-Karys Kaunas played both legs of the EHF Challenge Cup tie at home against Moldova's SSSCJRO-1 Tiraspol. Granitas won 59:50 on aggregate, taking a 33:24 win (Tadas Bučinskas 7 goals) on Saturday and playing a 26:26 draw (Modestas Štarolis 7) the day later.
Opening wins for Šviesa and Tenax
Two more teams started in Challenge Cup and curiously enjoyed victories by exactly the same score! VHC Šviesa Vilnius defeated a club from Bosnia-Herzegovina, HC Vogošca Poljine Hills at home by 27:24 (Laurynas Palevičius 5), while ZRHK Tenax Dobele beat HB Dudelange of Luxembourg away 27:24 (Nils Mikelsons, Nikita Pančenko and Egils Politers 5).
One level higher, in the EHF Cup the results were not as good for BHL sides. SKA Minsk started away against Slovenian team RD Riko Ribnica, who eliminated another BHL team, Serviti Põlva in the opening round. The match in Ribnica ended with a 33:33 draw (Mikalai Aliokhin 6).
ZTR Zaporozhye had to travel to North Macedonia for their opening encounter and returned with a 14:18 defeat (Oleksandr Tilte 4). On Tuesday, ZTR had an easy win in the domestic league, beating Portovyk Yuzhniy by 39:15 (Denys Isanchuk 8).
As a reminder, besides the five clubs in European action during the weekend, BHL also has a club in the EHF Champions League in Cocks Riihimäki. And a seventh BHL team still in Europe is HC Tallinn, who will play both opening round matches of the EHF Challenge Cup during coming weekend at home against a Lithuanian club KTU-Kauno Ažuolas Kaunas.
Cocks started Finnish league with a defeat
Having been extremely busy in Champions League and BHL, defending champion Cocks finally started their domestic league. And suffered a shock defeat in the hands of BK-46 Karjaa, losing at home by 31:32 (Teemu Tamminen 6). Three days later Cocks beat Grankulla IFK 25:19 (Nils Kreicbergs, Bojan Zupanjac and Vitalie Nenita 4).
Having Tamminen suspended after being sent off with red and blue cards during the defeat, Cocks' head coach Gintaras Savukynas was much happier on Saturday: "It was great to have some injured players back, like Zupanjac and Kreicbergs. We had some specific tasks for defence and they worked, as we only conceded 19 goals."
In Estonian championship, the four BHL teams played eachother. Serviti Põlva defeated Viljandi HC away 35:22 (Henri Sillaste 7 – Raiko Roosna 6) and HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper turned a thrilling match into their favour against HC Tallinn by 22:21 (Dmytro Yankovskiy 8 – Kaspar Lees 10).
Latvian and Lithuanian teams not in action in Europe took very comfortable domestic league victories. Celtnieks Riga beat ASK/LSPA Riga 44:24 (Dmitrijs Petuhovs 8), while further south, Dragunas Klaipeda defeated KKSC-RSSG-Grifas Kaunas by 41:20 (Žanas Gabrielijus Virbauskas 7).
On photo: Granitas-Karys Kaunas (in green) was the first BHL club to qualify to Round 3 of the EHF Challenge Cup. (Photo: Granitas-Karys).