Alligators edge past Valletta

Alligators beat Valletta for the first time in three years as their team work and spirit showed a massive revival, now they are properly set up in Birkirkara.

13 November 2011, 12:00am

From start to finish it was a very close struggle which swung from side to side, with both teams showing great determination, and Valletta scored more tries, two against one.

Alligators were a little one track in their attack formation, time and again the ball was switched back inside to one of the locks or number 8, who then tried to crash through and offload. Valletta were able to defend against this by their rugged tackling , which has always been a trademark of their Coach, Mr. Emmerson.

As they played downhill ‘Gators had a territorial advantage and took the lead with a penalty from Chris Briffa, in the meantime Valletta missed two penalties.

A good kick upfield won ground for Valletta and the hard mauling of their strong pack took them to the line. Acquilina was denied a try as he was smothered, but Moreno took a short pass and went over for to grab the lead for Valletta.

This led to a series of good running attacks by Valletta, with offloads, but ‘Gators defence held out, and they worked their way back into the Valletta half after a series of errors gave them ball.

Chris Briffa missed a penalty for ‘Gators, but then retook the lead with another penalty.

Valletta replied with a late penalty to take the lead 8-6 at half time.

Terrible rain storm came down and made the ground a muddy maelstrom but both teams managed play at a good level despite the conditions. Valletta charged into the corner and Abela, who enjoyed a strong game all through, battered his way over for another driving try to stretch the Valletta lead.

At this point it looked as if Valletta would win, and the only penetrative runner for ‘Gators was the returning Beppe Sammut. However Valletta just could not make the final pass to score. Coach Emmerson substituted his powerful front row and suddenly the initiative went to ‘Gators and this was a huge psychological boost. Even when he sent the big men back on, ‘Gators now believed in themselves, and it showed as they exeretd pressure. Briffa pulled back anothet penalty and suddenly the realised that victory could be achieved.

As the pressure came on Valletta, their discipline started to crack and they gave away a succession of penalties which let ‘Gators into their danger zone. Then a yellow card to Valletta’s Debattista really put them under pressure.

‘Gators sent in waves of attacks and the ever dangerous Beppe Sammut finally scored the winning try, to crown an encouraging start to the season and declare a real renaissance to the Fortunes of Birkirkara Alligators and justify the faith of Mayor Mike Fenech-Adami in installing them with new facilities.

Valletta will have to train hard to overcome this early set back, but both sides have definitely upgraded their performance and will soon challenge at the top.

Report by Mike Turner