SADDLEWORTH met its match in a small corner of eastern Europe… wearing a Norway RL shirt, writes Gary Carter.
Greenfield-based Saddleworth Ranger Kristian Hilton was part of the Scandinavians’ squad that went down in a European Championship rugby league game.
Hilton, 18, found himself in the Czech Republic town of Vrchlabi, just over the border from Poland, as the countries went head-to-head.
Scrum-half Hilton, a former pupil at St Anne’s, Lydgate and Saddleworth School and who is now studying at Huddersfield’s Greenhead College, qualifies because his mother Jannicke is Norwegian.
However, the trip was not joyous as the Czechs ran out 20-12 winners.
Norway trailed 16-12 but lost their discipline in their over-eagerness for the equalising score, allowing Patrick Koliska to kick two late penalties, to the delight of the more than 1,000 fans who turned out.
Despite the result, Norway Rugby League chairman Lee Johnson insisted positives came from the trip.
He said: “It came down to not completing sets, that’s what cost us.
“We could not have been better looked after from arriving on Thursday and the crowd was amazing, rugby league has taken hold of this town.
“We’ll go into camp in August to prepare for Germany, there is very little between these nations.”
Teenager Hilton can expect to be part of the squad for the European Championship C – North game against Germany. He was the only English-based player in Norway’s 26-man squad.