Destination Helsinki; the Moufflons were about to embark in their final game of the FIRA AER ENC 2D campaign. With 10 changes including 5 new caps to the side that beat Greece two weeks earlier, this was the culmination of 3 international games and 2 Sevens tournaments over a seven week period, a huge ask at any level.
Following a day's consolidation training, the team took to the field and it was obvious from the very start that the Finns had nothing to lose as they threw everything at their Cypriot counterparts. The Moufflons struggled to get out of their half as the back three of Holden, Thrasivoulou and Marmaras fielded kick after kick. The Finn's game plan was obvious from the beginning and Cyprus found it very hard to contain their enthusiasm; they pressed hard in defence and did not allow Cyprus to get into any kind of rhythm. Indeed slick play from the Finnish to exploit a midfield gap, as their inside centre made a great break and beat a number of defenders to put the first score on the board. Finland 5 - Cyprus 0.
After a poor restart from a missed penalty opportunity, some excellent return running from Fidias Efthymiou made a substantial break down the middle of the field with a nicely timed pass to release Kyriakos Vatikiotis who ran in to get the scoreboard ticking over, converted by Holden. This seemed to trigger the Moufflons and from a stolen lineout ball by Frank Stavrou, the Cypriots manage to string together 13 phases of play with strong running from the forwards and backs alike to release George Agathocleous in the corner to score a try which was again converted by the boot of Holden. As the tide began to turn the Cypriot forwards worked hard to ensure the ball was continually recycled. Close to the Finnish try line, some excellent work by the dominant Cyprus pack allowed Burhan Torgut to release Vatikiotis to charge over for his second try, which was again converted by Holden. Before half time, a penalty conversion by Holden brought the half time score to 5-24, with much work to do.
The second half began very much the same as the first with the Finns exerting themselves on the flow of the game. As the Cypriot forwards began to dominate once again, it was a double yellow card that broke the stalemate, with George Agathocleous spending time in the sin bin as a consequence of retaliation following a small disagreement between both sides! As the forward pack turned the screw, dominating a tight, forward orientated game; the pressure began to tell with a number of penalties conceded by Finland, one resulting in Chris Thoma taking a quick tap and passing to Stylianos Panagiotou who went over for a debut try, converted by Holden. From the restart, some good recycling released Efthymiou who made a great break to run in a try from his own half, once again, with his kicking boot firmly on, Holden converted. Cyprus began to ring the changes as players began to tire from their efforts. Hard work and some good breaks allowed the Moufflons to get deep into the Finnish half, with good hands releasing Torgut to go over for a well worked try, converted by Holden.
Further changes allowed Cyprus to maintain the momentum and keep on a front foot; mistakes were exploited and soon led to Adonis Marmaras going over for a try on his debut, converted by Holden for a perfect day for conversions with 7 from 7. A late rally by the Finns led to some stout defending by the Moufflons but from a penalty conceded, Holden kick the ball to touch; the final whistle blew. Final score 5-52. The perfect end to an exceptional season. Unlike previous games that had been dominated by the free running backs, this game belonged to the hard work of the forwards who produced quick clean ball to release the backs when required; phase play was the name of the game.