Gozo open 2014 season with upset over Stompers

Jean-Pierre Zarb crossed for a hat trick of tries as Gozo RL opened their account in the 2014 MRL Championship with a surprise 40-20 victory over Stompers RL last night at Melita FC.

Mark Portelli, a try scorer last night, in action for Gozo.
Mark Portelli, a try scorer last night, in action for Gozo.

Stompers turned over the first two restarts of the match through simple errors and Gozo capitalized on both opportunities to set the tone for an interesting encounter after only 10 minutes of play.

Not much split the two teams as they went into the break at 16-all.

Gozo’s Chris Tabone grew in confidence throughout the match and capped off a strong game slamming the ball down over the try line for the first try after the interval.

A ray of light in the Stompers team throughout the night was Julian Caruana. Built-low-to-the-ground and thriving with pace, the speedster crossed for three tries of his own. The specialty, collecting a pass following a 50-metre break down the left flank by the bulldozing Malta international Dragan Cerketa, and scoring in the left corner.

But the form of Cerketa, Caruana, Holliday and Zammit was not enough to contain Gozo who were helped with the services of former Malta international Dylan Frendo.

Frendo too had a sterling performance, crossing for two tries and knocking over six goals from seven attempts.

The match, not overly impressive in most parts, was controlled by Serbian Aleksandar Markovic who took charge of his first MRL Championship fixture since moving to Malta in February.

A Malta XIII will take on the touring West Yorkshire Police this Friday evening at Melita FC with Malta coach Anthony Micallef selecting an all-Malta based selection for the match.

2014 MRL Championship – Round 1
Gozo RL 40
(J.P. Zarb 3, D.Frendo 2, M.Portelli, C.Tabone tries; D.Frendo 6 from 7 goals) defeated
Stompers RL 20 (J.Caruana 3, D.Holliday tries; O.Jones 2 from 4 goals)
H-T: 16-all
Best & Fairest: J.P. Zarb (Gozo RL) and D.Cerketa (Stompers RL)
Ref: A.Markovic
At Melita FC, Pembroke.

2014 MRL Championship Standings:
Gozo RL, 2pts, 1W, 0L, (+20)
Team Pit RL, 2pts, 0W, 0L, 1B, (+0)
Malta Origin RL, 0pts*, 0W, 0L,  (+0)
Eagles RL, 0pts*, 0W, 0L, (+0)
Stompers RL, 0pts, 0W, 1L, (-20)
* Denotes one game in hand

Top Tryscorers:
3: J.P.Zarb (Gozo RL) and J.Caruana (Stompers RL)
2: Dylan Frendo (Gozo RL)

Top Point Scorers:
20: D.Frendo (Gozo RL) = 2 tries, 6 goals

Other Round 1 Fixtures: Malta Origin RL v Eagles RL, Bye: Team Pit RL

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