Gibraltar ease past Malta Barbarians

After having won quite easily away, a much altered Malta Barbarian side was  shocked by a hungry and quicker thinking Gibraltar side, who finally deserved a convincing win.

Gibraltar were too strong for Malta Barbarians. Photograpjhy by Clara Castillo
Gibraltar were too strong for Malta Barbarians. Photograpjhy by Clara Castillo

By Mike Turner

Unfortunately, in  Rugby, the referee is “the sole arbiter of the law”. As last week Mr. Ramage controlled the game well, it ran easily; by contrast this week there was huge inconsistency from referee Mr. O`Brien, some of whose decisions definitely affected the outcome, and who missed many repeat offences.

From kick off Malta went on the attack territorially but the Gibraltar team, especially the backs were sharper in thought and reaction. In the end the Malta team, despite brave and impassioned individual performances, showed their inexperience in their hesitation at crucial moments. The light footed side stepping Gibraltar half backs, Milton and Armstrong, caused problems from the start, ably supported by the back row, who repeatedly won turnover ball at rucks, although not always obviously legally.

Malta scrum had the edge in the tight and shoved Gibraltar back several times, and slowly started to play better as a team. Vinny Stivala  was kicking superbly gaining fifty metres each time. Several times Gibraltar managed to smother possession when speed was needed by Malta, thus losing the impetus. Good passing by Malta launched a powerful attack but it broke down against stout defence. The Malta scrum was pressing right up to the Gibraltar line when they managed to lose the scrum against the head to waste a golden opportunity. Cutajar was given a yellow card for ten minute sin bin for lying on the ball, which seemed inconsistent with previous decisions. The half ended with a lovely try by Gibraltar`s James Rosso, converted by A. Cruz, so they led 7 – 0.

Malta came back from the half time talk with only 14 men and roared into the attack. They won a good penalty at a well managed scrum, Mclister broke through the middle  backed up to win the ruck and Julian Galea ran strongly to score, converted well by McLister, to draw level.

Gibraltar hit back with another good try by Fred Cruz, converted by Armstrong. Malta struck back with lovely running and when the move broke down, forwards Harvey and Holliday were there in powerful support, flipped to Julian Galea again and he  powered over for his second try, converted by McLister. Aaron Borg showed his power in two stunning tackles and two great runs but poor handling broke up the attacks. From the break Gibraltar scored a try with penetrating running to regain the lead. They scored another try after driving more determinedly in the loose and their final try was an absolutely superb carve up straight through the Malta backline, all timing and angle.

Malta fought back but dropped a crucial ball intercepted by Fred Cruz for his second try, and Gibraltar finished worthy winners.

However there is much to be positive about in the emergence of at least two potential full internationals from among the junior teams.

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