Team Russia beats Belgian Barbarians in tight defensive battle in Brussels

Team Russia scored a touchdown in the waning seconds of the first half and then held on to defeat the host Belgian Barbarians 7-2 Saturday in Brussels, Belgium in a game that was physical from the opening whistle.

The win was the first for the Russian team since they beat Norway two years ago. They had lost both their qualifiers to Great Britain and Holland in 2016.

Russian quarterback Igor Chernolutsky scored the game’s only touchdown with seconds left in the first half on  quarterback sneak. Belgium’s only points came on a safety in the third quarter. Belgian Nick Vanhee blocked a punt by Nickolai Golovach in the end zone which ended up bouncing out of the back of the end zone.

The game was marred by turnovers as Barbarians quarterback Tomas Firszt threw and interception and both running backs fumbled while Chernolutsky tossed three picks.

Team Russia’s defense kept Belgium in check. Photo: Bob de Calonne

Playing without head coach Dmitry Maximov, who was delayed at the last minute and could not accompany the team, Team Russia started slowly as Belgium moved the ball smartly down the field. However, the Russian defense held and on the ensuing possession the offense reached Belgium’s red zone only to see Belgium pick off a Chernolutsky pass.

Russia returned the favor late in the second quarter as Roman Pavlenko intercepted a Firszt pass and returned it 30 yards deep into Barbarians territory. With a short field, Chernolutsky made no mistake scoring three plays later giving Russia a 7-0 lead at the break.

Belgian Barbarians RB Antonio Insalaco broke for 70 yards Photo: Bob de Calonne

The closest Belgium came to scoring in the first half was a 70 yard run by running back Antonio Insalaco midway through the second quarter. But the Belgian offense could not capitalize on the field position.

The second half saw much of the same with both defenses playing well. Belgium forced the safety trapping Chernolutsky in the end zone in the third quarter.

Belgium never threatened in the fourth quarter as Russia kept them bottled up in their own end and the game ended with  Firszt throwing an unsuccessful Hail Mary .


Photos:, Bob de Calonne

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