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News / Cocks started their four-match away run with win and defeat

Baltic Handball League

2019.02.11 14:14

Cocks started their four-match away run with win and defeat

Last week the current champion of Baltic Handball League, Cocks Riihimäki started to catch up with the rest of the teams in Group A and played two of their four postponed matches. Serviti Põlva surprisingly delivered Cocks their third defeat of the season before the Finns beat Dragunas Klaipeda away.

Due to the heavy match schedule in the EHF Champions League in autumn, Cocks had rescheduled four away matches in four countries into just ten days. The first stop was Põlva, where last year's BHL finalists met for the first time since Cocks had beat the Estonian champion 26:23 in the decisive match.

Good defending helped Serviti to victory

Serviti had reached a great form recently and the two teams put together a truly exciting match on Friday in Põlva. Defence was the key word, especially at the start, as after first 15 minutes Cocks had a 5:3 lead. Teemu Tamminen extended the lead to 7:3 before Serviti's attacking combinations started to click together.

After Stanislav Kholodiuk's goal had put Serviti 8:7 ahead, the match was very even and tight until the end. The visitors had a half-time lead of 13:12, but Serviti started to replace goalkeeper with seventh field-player and the tactics worked, as in the 44th minute Alfred Timmo gave the hosts a two-goal advantage for the first time – 18:16.

Roni Syrjälä and Vitalie Nenita helped Cocks back in front before great saves from Eston Varusk and four unanswered goals saw Serviti take 23:20 lead. Final minutes gave chances for both teams, but Serviti claimed a 25:24 victory. It had been almost five years since Cocks had lost to Estonians. Kholodiuk scored seven goals for the winners, while Tamminen and Andrei Novoselov recorded five for Cocks.

"It was tough match, but we managed to win mainly due to very good defence. Also the game discipline was good, which we have often failed to keep this season. Not too many technical faults, successful tactical changes and I guess as in every one-goal victory, a little bit of luck also helped," commented Serviti's head coach Kalmer Musting.

Cocks moved back to winning ways in Klaipeda

Two days later, Cocks started very well in Klaipeda and were 3:0 up inside four minutes. Dragunas had answers, fought back well and took a 9:8 lead for the first time in 22nd minute. Half-time still went Cocks' way by 13:11 and early in the second half Dragunas managed to cut the deficit to minimum as the score was 14:15.

Then stepped up Cocks' Lithuanian goalkeeper Giedrius Morkunas, who made a number of great saves against his compatriots and kept Dragunas without goals for ten minutes. Cocks run away and eventually took a 25:21 victory. Tamminen was again top scorer with six, while Karolis Bliuvas scored four for the hosts.

This week Cocks will travel further east and will play SKA Minsk on Friday and ZTR Zaporozhye two days later. When the two eastern-most teams of BHL visited Riihimäki in December, they put an end to Cocks' 41-game winning run. ZTR won 28:22 and SKA 31:28 to deliver the title-holder first BHL defeats for 3,5 years.

Another match last week took place in Kehra, where HC Kehra/Horizon Pulp&Paper could not match SKA Minsk. After quite a tight and even start to match, the Belarussians run away already in the first half and won comfortably 42:23 (22:11). Mikita Vailupau scored seven goals for SKA and David Mamporia – who the day earlier celebrated his 18th birthday – six for Kehra.

Eleven out of twelve BHL teams avoided domestic defeats

It was a busy week in general for BHL teams, as all twelve were also in action in domestic competitions. Remarkably only one team suffered a defeat, as Viljandi HC lost at home to fellow BHL-side HC Tallinn by 23:34 (Sergei Rodjukov 8 – Robin Oberg 8). Serviti defeated HC Viimsi/Tööriistamarket 34:26 and Kehra beat SK Tapa 26:20 in other Estonian matches.

Another BHL-derby took place in Latvia, where Celtnieks Riga and ZRHK Tenax Dobele played a 26:26 draw (Artis Kurmens 6 – Nikita Pančenko and Nils Mikelsons 6). Celtnieks was also in action on Sunday and beat SK Latgols Ludza 26:22 (Vladislav Koshman 10).

In Lithuania, VHC Šviesa Vilnius took an important domestic win over Varsa-Stronglasas Alytus by 25:23 (Valdas Drabavičius 7) in midweek, but then lost the first leg of EHF Challenge Cup last 16 match against RK Borac Banja Luka 16:29 (Drabavičius 7).

Dragunas claimed a home win over HC Vilnius by 33:27 (Gabrielijus Virbauskas 7), while Granitas-Karys Kaunas just hold on to the leading spot in Lithuanian league by drawing 30:30 in local derby against RK Kauno ažuolas-KTU (Modestas Štarolis 9).

Outside the Baltic States, there were relatively easy wins achieved by SKA, who beat Belarus Under-18 national team 38:22 (Vailupau 11), by ZTR, defeating HC Odessa 33:20 (Dmytro Ilchenko and Maksym Karamyshev 6) and by Cocks, who took the biggest win of the week, beating HC Hangö IK 39:11 (Tamminen 7).

On photo: Tight defending was the key in Serviti – Cocks encounter. (Photo: Helin Potter).