That rugby league should have survived and even thrived in Russia for more than a decade is one of the more surprising developments in the game, but there is still some way to go until Russian clubs fulfil their ambition to compete in the Challenge Cup.
Locomotiv lost by only four points at Dewsbury in the first match of their short tour but they found themselves out of their depth in the first half at Workington last night. What did bode well for the future was the way they applied themselves to give a much better display after the break.
A full strength Workington side started powerfully, with tries in the first six minutes from Neil Frazer and their player-coach, Martyn Wood. The tactical naïvety of the Russians was already evident, although they were impressive enough physically and their second row, Kirill Koulemine, would be a giant – even at Super League level.
His strong run could have given Locomotiv some early points, but their scrum half, Denis Nikolski, lost the ball going for the line.
When Carl Sice went over from dummy-half and Tane Manihera intercepted from Petr Sokolov to jog 60 yards for the fourth Workington try, a farce was on the cards.
But despite losing Sergei Doubrynin to the sin-bin for one of a series of offences around the play-the-ball, Moscow slowed the rate of leakage, conceding only a try to Ricky Wright whilst they were short-handed and one more to Kevin Hetherington on the stroke of half-time.
The Russians continued to show signs of improvement in the second half, but Sice side-stepped through for his second after a spell of sustained pressure. They deserved something for their persistence and they got it when Doubrynin forced his way over the wing.
Sice's excellent solo run gave him his hat-trick and Wright scored his second before Hitro Okesene finished it off, but Moscow had shown that they could be good enough to trouble some of the lesser teams in the Northern Ford Premiership.
The other touring Russian team, Kazan Arrows, lost 40-10 at Hull Kingston Rovers in last night's other game.
Workington: S Wood; Chilton, Frazer, Beaumont, Woodcock, M Wood, Manihera, Wright, Sice, Okesene, Hoyles, Savelio, Charlton. Substitutes used: Hetherington, Addison, Rumney, Nixon.
Lokomotiv Moscow: Fedchuk; Klebanov, Doubalkin, Netchaev, Doubrynin, Gavrilin, Nikolski, Zoubov, Ovtchinnikov, Boyzoukov, Lynsenkov, Koulemine, Sokolov. Substitutes used: Romanov, Zoukov, Postnikov, Koltykhov.
Referee: R Laughton (Barnsley).Reuse content