Men's Malta Sevens wins Plate final in Riga

The Malta 7s team sponsored by Mediterranean bank achieved a creditable achievement in last weekend’s participation in the European Men’s Sevens 2011 Division ‘’B’’ organised by European Rugby Association FIRA-AER in the capital city of Latvia, Riga.

17 July 2011, 12:00am
The Maltese squad managed to win the plate final against Bulgaria thus earning an honourable fifth placing out of twelve participating nations. Malta played in Pool A alongside Latvia, Norway, Hungary, Bulgaria and Estonia.

In the first match, Malta started with an excellent performance beating Norway 26-7.

 A try by Vince Stivala followed by three tries and conversions by Tom Holloway was the perfect start for the Maltese team.

In the second match, Malta remained unbeaten beating Estonia 17-5.

Two tries by Tom Holloway and another try by Max Galea enabled the Maltese team to remain unbeaten after playing two matches in the morning.

The bad news for the squad was that Matthew Von Brockdorff was injured and unable to participate in the remaining matches. To make matters worse, Rob Holloway and Max Galea sustained injuries thus restricting them to play on a regular basis for the remainder of the tournament.

In the afternoon, the Maltese team suffered from the unavailability of the above mentioned and lost their remaining matches against tournament favourites Latvia and Bulgaria.

In the match against Latvia, Malta was torn apart by a superior Latvian side although the Maltese players managed to limit the damage by losing 29-7.

In the last match of the day against Bulgaria, the Maltese boys played much better but a couple of defensive lapses enabled our opponents to win comfortably 21-5.

On the second and final day of the tournament, Malta could still qualify for the semi finals if they beat the Hungarians.

But our opponents had different ideas and their superiority was clear to see on the pitch beating Malta 22-7.

Jurgen Pavanello scored Malta’s only try converted by Tom Holloway.

At the end of the final matches of respective groups, Latvia and Bulgaria earned the right to play in the semi finals alongside Pool B winners Serbia and second placed Greece.

Malta obtained a respectable fourth place in the group thus earning the right to contest the Plate.

In the afternoon, the Maltese players were a transformed lot and national team coach Damian Neill deserves a mention of praise because he put the players in a position to enjoy the remaining matches without exerting excessive pressure.

 

In the semi final plate match, Malta produced a triumphant performance ripping Monaco apart and the final score was 24-7. Jurgen Pavanello (two tries), Rob Holloway were Malta’s scorers whilst Tom Holloway executed two conversions.

In the plate final, Malta was up against Bulgaria for the second time and the Maltese players were not prepared to commit the same mistakes in their previous encounter against the Bulgarians.

Malta played superbly and the Bulgarians lost their cool during the encounter receiving two yellow cards and a marching order for committing numerous penalties during the match.

The Maltese were smart in their approach and used the extra space on the field.

The Bulgarians were still in the running but the Maltese kept the Bulgarians at bay and managed to win the match 19-14.

The result achieved by the Maltese squad enabled them to win the plate final and obtain a respectable fifth place out of 12 participating nations.

The team was led by team captain Samuel Borg and national team coach Damian Neill was assisted by team manager Neil Galea and physiotherapist Steven Cilia.