Team Poland is quietly raising eyebrows in Europe. In their fourth game of 2016, the Poles dominated the Dutch Lions in Lublin, Poland 42-14 to earn their first victory, but more importantly to gain invaluable confidence going into the 2017 World Games to be held in Poland.
Poland was facing an experienced Dutch squad who had just finished a tough European Championship qualifying tournament two weeks ago where Holland won one and lost one beating a Team Russia who had lost a close game to Poland a year ago.
But the Poles had showed that their two close losses to Denmark and Sweden this year that they were fast improving.
Quarterback Karol Zak threw two touchdown passes and ran for another one while the Polish secondary helped out by picking off Dutch signal caller Richard Bouthoorn three times.
However, Holland took the lead early as Bouthoorn connected with Ashneal Werleman for a 33 yard touchdown. Denilson Raadwijk kicked the PAT and Holland led 7-0.
Polish running back Jacek Wroblewski scored for Poland on the next series after a penalty had given Poland the ball on the Dutch 37 yards line. Adam Nelip added the extra point and Poland drew even 7-7.
Bouthoorn threw the first of three interceptions on Holland’s next possession as Gabriel Kalus picked him off on the Dutch 21 yard line. Poland had to settle for a 31 yard field goal as Holland formidable front seven kept them in check.
The second quarter opened with Holland driving as Bouthoorn engineered a drive capping it with a nine yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Revilinho Graanoogst to regain the lead 14-10.
Zak found Thomas Zubryckiego from 24 yards out on Poland’s next series and Michal Niemas added a two point conversion giving Poland an 18-14 lead. Adam Nelip kicked his second field goal of the game after Dutch running back Rody Vink fumbled on his own 15 yard line and Poland took a 21-14 lead into the break.
Poland extended the lead to 28-14 as Grzegorz Dominik caught a two yard touchdown pass from Zak. Then, in the fourth quarter with Holland taking chances, Poland was able to capitalize on another Bouthoorn interception and Zak scored himself on a one yard run. Then Matthew Szefler took the ball in from two yards out to round out the scoring giving Poland its first win of the year, but demonstrating how far Poland has developed in the past five years.
Team Poland quarterback Karol Zak:
“Holland is a really physical team and they battered me today. They hit me pretty hard and have an excellent front seven. But great praise must be given to our defense, with three interceptions. They gave the offense good opportunities which made a big difference.”
Dutch head coach Rey Agaoglu while disappointed, was impressed with Poland:
“The defeat hurts, but it’s uplifting to see how improved the Polish national team has become over the past three years since we played them last.”