Malta Origin and Sliema Stompers, winners in opening round

Malta Origin and Sliema Stompers recorded first up victories at the Balzan FC Ground in last night’s opening round of the 2012 MRL Dove Men+Care Championship.

Stompers centre Matthew Camilleri scored four tries for the Sliema club
Stompers centre Matthew Camilleri scored four tries for the Sliema club

A spirited Gozo team asserted themselves against Malta Origin as the improvers of Maltese rugby after only forming 18 months ago and were well led by their senior players in Debattista, Hili and Micallef-Moreno. The Gozitans trailed by only four points at half time.

Their opposition however was adamant to keep them at bay, for Malta Origin - a Sam Keep special off a superb ball by Maltese-Australian Dylan Frendo caught everybody's eyes and it was an evening of dashing runs with Malta Origin's Joey Criminale crossing for four tries to push his claims for another national team call-up next month.

Gozo weren't to be outdone, Troy McLean with some blistering sideline escapades and Gozo's own Malta international Gary Hili crossed for two tries of his own for the Gozitans.

Gozo rotated their goal kickers after 20 minutes of play from Micallef-Moreno to Hussain, but spearheaded by Criminale and Frendo, Malta Origin weren't to be beaten on the night.

Tempers frayed towards the end of the match but only just as referee Gosney was required to call full time. Malta Origin seeing out Gozo RL 40-32.

Kavallieri RL vs Sliema Stompers

In the second match of the evening, Sliema Stompers kicked on at the hour mark before fighting off a strong finishing Kavallieri RL to see out a high scoring 52-46 encounter between Maltese rugby's two biggest rivals.

Sliema Stompers player-coach Malcolm Attard said his team has big hopes for the Dove Men Care Championship.

"After a shaky start tonight, we found our footing and started working the sets and breaking down the opposition defence" said Attard.

"All the boys enjoyed the experience of playing the new code and we are looking to build to grow in this competition game by game"

Former Gateshead Thunder star Roderick Attard's men were hampered by last minute withdrawls, loaning four players from the Malta Origin squad that had played earlier, and had all the work to do against a well drilled Sliema based team.

The Sliema Stompers benefitted from four Matthew Camilleri tries, three of them in the second stanza, and were helped by their strong wide running props Dragan Cerketa in the middle and John Ellul down the left flank.

Captain-coach Malcolm Attard was strong throughout as well as kicking 8 from 9 in strong winds, equally matched by his opposite number kicking a just as impressive 7 from 8.

Young Joe Paolella was tested from a kick-off as Cerketa and Ellul combined to lay on a smashing tackle on the 18-year-old prop.

A strong finishing Kavallieri couldn't catch the Stompers in the end, Sliema Stompers winning 52-46.

The MRL disciplinary committee will review a headbutting charge against Troy McLean (Gozo RL) later today as part of its match review proceedings.


Malta Origin 40 (J.Criminale 4, S.Keep 2, D.Frendo, L.Naphausen tries; D.Frendo 4 from 8 goals) defeated
Gozo RL 32 (G.Hili 2, C.Debattista, T.McLean, I.Grima, G.Grech tries; S.F.Hussain 3 from 4, J.Moreno-Micallef 1 from 2 goals)
H-T: Malta Origin 22-16
Best & Fairest: J.Criminale (Malta Origin) & G.Hili (Gozo RL)
Ref: N.Gosney
At Balzan FC Ground

Sliema Stompers 58 (M.Camilleri 4, D.Cerketa 2, J.Ellul 2, M.Attard, N.Gatt tries; M.Attard 9 from 10 goals) defeated
Kavallieri RL 46 (T.McLean 2, R.Meintjes 2, J.P.Zarb, J.Meintjes, D.Frendo, G.Tonna tries; D.Frendo 7 from 8 goals)
H-T: Sliema Stompers 22-18
Best & Fairest:
D.Cerketa (Sliema Stompers) and T.McLean (Kavallieri RL)
Ref: A.Micallef
At Balzan FC Ground

2012 MRL Dove Men Care Championship Standings:
Sliema Stompers 2pts ( 12)
Malta Origin 2pts ( 8)
Gozo RL 0pts (-8)
Kavallieri RL 0pts (-12)

Top Tryscorers: 4: M.Camilleri (Sliema Stompers) and J.Criminale (Malta Origin)

Matchday 2 Fixtures: Malta Origin v Kavallieri RL, Sliema Stompers v Gozo RL


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