The European Shield East resumes on Saturday with Russia travelling to Latvia for the second encounter in the triangular tournament.
Russia, who defeated Ukraine 62-14 in the opening game, are firm favourites to clinch the title in the Upesciems Stadium, outside the capital Riga, in their return from a three-year international hiatus in this competition.
Russian Head Coach Edgar Taturyan is confident his team will prevail. “We’ve been preparing in the normal way and we are looking forward to visiting Latvia for the first time,” he said. “It will be good to see what the country is like on and off the field and, of course, we want to give them a good game.”
Already facing an uphill task confronting a seasoned and experienced Bears outfit, the odds on minnow Latvia’s chances of posting an upset have lengthened even further with five first team players ruled out due to injury in the last fortnight. The squad, which warmed up for the European Shield East with a match against West Yorkshire Police has, nevertheless, been boosted by the arrival of former Serbian national team coach John Risman, who will take the reins for the match.
Team manager Vilmars Sokolovs commented: “The Latvian team, with its last two training sessions today and tomorrow, will complete its preparations and John Risman will help motivate and encourage our players before the game. We expect a tough but interesting match.”