Overseas continue to dominate

A hugely exciting feast of good rugby at Marsa ended with the speedy Overseas backs giving them a slight edge over disappointed Stompers who came back from a half time deficit to take the lead in the final quarter, only to have the result snatched out of their hands in the final five minutes.

15 March 2014, 4:31pm
Rugby
Rugby
At first it looked as if the match would be a battle between the backs of Overseas against the strength of the Stompers forwards. Both sides defended and tackled with determination, a big difference was the poor way in which Stompers dealt with the kick off. Several times they failed to catch the ball cleanly and gave away possession in their own 22, and Overseas scored two tries directly as a result. Also they kicked off short and gave away possession themselves.

From the start Overseas backs went into top gear and the speedy Austin scored a fine try converted by Briffa. Stompers were stung into a response which saw them pressing territorially and recycling until McLister scored in the corner in an immediate come back. However Ellul, who was having a good game otherwise, fumbled the kick off, Overseas had possession and McDonald knifed through two tackles to score, Briffa converted again.

Soon after Overseas won possession at the scrum and Briffa timed a superb flat, long pass into a gap for full back Julve to sprint through for another great try, converted by Briffa. I mediate response from Stompers as Overseas also mishandled the kick off to give away territory and after long pressure Borg scored close enough for Attard to convert.. Then an unnecessary penalty for holding on gave fly half Briffa the opportunity to land an easy penalty to stretch the half time Overseas lead to 24-17.

The second half saw Stompers with the wind behind them which gave them early territorial advantage but Overseas defended doggedly, and for a long stretch the game went through quite a boring period as the teams tried to wear each other down. Stompers scrum half Galea went through a rare period of repeated mistakes which did not help his side use their advantage well.

Then a long but badly directed Stivala kick was fielded deep by Alexander who launched a counter attack, when he was stopped the ball was whipped across the backs to Cerketa the flying prop, who forced through tackles until he released and it was sent to Debattista who was strong enough to force his way over through several tacklers to score, Attard converting and the scores were level – game on !

Ellul was outstanding from number 8 for Stompers as they charged and recycled, although Attard missed a vital penalty from an easy spot which would have given them the lead at a crucial psychological point. The Spanish international substituted Ellul and immediately made a beautiful swerving run to gain much territory, the ball was recycled and eventually veteran Fountain burst over for a fine try, converted by Attard and Stompers finally had the lead.

At this point they needed a real leader to marshall their game, but instead, because Briffa went off, Stivala moved out to fly half for Overseas and his rugby brain dominated from there on. Stomeprs became frenetic and ill disciplined and Overseas incisive. Poor handling by Stompers gave possession and McDonald speared through with a superb change of pace to level the scores at 29-29. Stompers fought back but were less disciplined in thought and Julve and Stivala added the two decisive tries to take the match by ten points. A fine example of good rugby, but Overseas were probably the more intelligent and had better team work.

Report by Mike Turner