The Rugby World Cup 2011 dream is over for Israel after they were beaten 19-3 by Lithuania in the European Round 2 play-off at the Wingate Institute in Netanya on Saturday.
Israel, the top side in Division 3C at the halfway stage of the European Nations Cup 2010, had upset the higher ranked Slovenia in the opening play-off in the first match televised live in the country’s history.
However there was to be no repeat with Division 3A representatives Lithuania taking the lead in the ninth minute with full back Egidijus Peronis’ try, which was converted by Kestutis Marcisauskas.
Israel did respond almost immediately with a penalty from fly half Amir Beutler, but it was the visitors who went in leading 12-3 at half time following a try from prop Ignas Darkintis in the 21st minute.
Lithuania lost number 8 Audrius Ramancionis to the sin-bin in the 48th minute, but try as they did the home side could not find a way through the visitors’ defence while they had a man advantage.
The score instead remained unchanged until two minutes from time when Peronis made certain of victory for Lithuania with his second try of the match, again converted by centre Marcisauskas.
Lithuania’s reward is to host Netherlands, the top side in Division 2B after four wins from four in the first half of the two-year competition, in the Round 3 play-off on 6 June.
The winner of this play-off will then have a year to prepare for the next hurdle of the region’s qualifying process for New Zealand 2011 – a meeting with the Division 2A winner.