So it´s Sweden´s 3rd match in the Conference N 1 series for 2018 – 2019. Sweden won by a huge score against Moldova, who have lost all their games but one and been relegated, and by the narrowest of margins against Luxemburg. The two main contenders for promotion are now Sweden and Ukraine. Hungary had an outside chance of promotion until last week when they lost against Luxemburg. Ukraine also blotted their copybook a couple of weeks ago when they lost to bottom-placed Moldova. Ukraine now have ten points from three games while Sweden have nine points from two, with Hungary and Ukraine away remaining. The match today is no longer decisive as, irrespective of the result, the team promoted will be the one which wins the match against Ukraine next week. Sweden would, however, be in a slightly stronger position if they were to take five points today as Ukraine would then have to take five points to nil against Sweden for them to win promotion.
Sweden started off in sprightly fashion but Hungary kept them out. They were however looking slightly fragile on their left side and slick passing by Sweden got the ball out to Kalling-Smith who burst through to score on 14”. A penalty before made it 8 – 0. The match ranged from end to end with Hungary showing some creativity in the backs, Penalties were exchanged and the score moved to 11 – 6. Then on 32” a gap was created on the right again and Kalling-Smith took it gratefully. A good conversion by C. Murray made it 18 – 6. Hungary put up a better showing in the last ten minutes of the half and they finally drove over to make it 18 – 13.
Sweden made an excellent start to the second half with Colin Murray sneaking down the blindside from a scrum for a score. Sweden continued to press while Hungary persisted in interpassing a few yards from their line. Colin Murray snapped up a loose ball to score again and with no conversions that made it 28 – 13. But Sweden now have four tries which can give them five points. Sweden looked to be cruising and after sustained pressure from the pack Martini drove over. A further penalty went over and with around 15” to go it was 36 – 13. Sweden then made the mistake of bringing on the bench and they were frankly not up to it. Hungary fought back fiercely and it was suddenly 36 – 27. The Swedish pack was crumbling by the end but Hungary were unable to get any closer. The scrums and lineouts were pretty even with neither side dominating. Sweden got the ball out to the wings to create space but their off-loading was not in the same class as the Hungarians and there were too many handling errors. Fredrik E. gave an excellent service from scrum-half and Theo had a large number of his trade-mark bullocking runs. Neither should have been substituted with ten minutes to go.
So that´s the situation. Sweden are a little bit better than Hungary and Luxemburg, but not much. Rugby Europe shows that Sweden now has 13 points and Ukraine 10. Five tries to three must mean no bonus point. This means that Ukraine will beat Sweden if they win 4 – 0, 5 – 1 or 5 – 0 next week. All to play for!