Valletta Lionhearts defy Kavallieri

Kavallieri began this match as firm favourites to run up a big score against Valletta who have struggled to raise a team this season, as the lack of facilities undermines their enthusiasm.

Staff Reporter
19 January 2014, 12:00am
Kavallieri defeated a struggling but hard working Valletta side. Photo by Ray Attard
Kavallieri defeated a struggling but hard working Valletta side. Photo by Ray Attard

By Mike Turner

The match started as expected, both sides agreeing to start at 13 a side. Territorial advantage was all Kavallieri's as Valletta struggled to make a cohesive challenge from a brand new combination. An early try for Kavallieri set the pace and they could have scored but lobbed passes and poor handling wasted many potential scoring opportunities, giving the Valletta defence time to get into place. As the game continued Valletta developed a better team understanding and harried the Kavallieri as they used so much possession. Two more Kavallieri tries, both converted by Cutajar, built up a 19 - 0 lead at half time.

After the one sided first half, it was expected that Kavallieri would soon build up a massive score, but Valletta had different ideas and attitudes, binding much better as a team, ripping into the opposition with real determination from the kick-off. A series of charges and offloads finally released Delia who broke several tackles and scored Vallettas' try.

Kavallieri quickly hit back with a try of their own after a rather harsh decision of a high tackle had put them in an attacking position. Valletta showed their commendable determination by charging down the conversion kick, a rare occasion in modern rugby.

Both teams were now at 15 a side, as MRFU President Brian Dalton came on at scrum half for Valletta, and he introduced some real generalship and direction to the Valletta efforts. There were times that Kavallieri's all conquering season looked in danger, and they actually failed to score from their trademark driving maul from the line out due to the brave defence of the Lions.

Fawari was always dangerous but Valletta would not allow him to get away; Debièrre was passionate, speedy but inaccurate and the Valletta tackling usually held them. For Valletta Delia, Dalton and Griffiths were prominent, and they were close to scoring more tries several times. They enjoyed a long period of territorial advantage, when just a little more sophistication would have worked.

With some careful coaching, this Valletta side can become a proper force to contend with, especially the Czech Mati, who looked very promising in his first ever competitive rugby game.

After the one sided first half Kavallieri only won the second half by 10 points to 5 -they ended as worthy winners, but were given a warning that the season will have to be won against tough competition.