rugby player 88 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
Israel suffered a frustrating loss when it went down 17-15 to Norway in their European Nations Cup Division 3C match at Hadar Yosef Saturday night.
Sloppy play and fundamental errors cost the side dearly as it spent much of the match being its own worst enemy. Despite the troubles, a late try by Ori Valdman right at full time gave Israel hope of drawing the match but Amir Beutler's conversion from the corner was wide.
Before a passionate crowd of 300, Israel started well and went into halftime with a 7-3 lead. Prop Ofer Hamburger touched down to give Israel the early points it was looking for.
After the interval, Israel started to break down and couldn't retain the limited amount of possession it was receiving.
Norway edged back into the match with two penalty goals which made it 10-9. Another Norwegian penalty goal and try took it out to a 17-10 lead.
Just as Norway looked to be coasting, the balances of fortune shifted when a Norwegian was sent off for his second professional foul.
From this point on Israel pressed but could only find the try line late in the match.
Norway leads the group with an undefeated record, while Israel is 1-2.
Israel coach Jeremy Schauder was disappointed after the match. "We started well but then mistakes and knock-ons set in," he said. "After that we got into our shells, missed tackles and struggled."
Decision making was also a problem. "If we had played a bit more smartly, we would have scored earlier and put pressure on Norway in the final moments but everyone wanted to score themselves, which cost us."
A positive development in the match was the debut of scrum half Itamar Harpaz. "Itamar played well and impressed with what he did. He looks to be a player of the future," Schauder noted.
Israel's next match is in April against Bosnia-Herzegovina. Until then domestic competition takes center stage and Test caps are on offer if players shine. "We will watch what happens in the league and see if anyone puts their hand up."