Falcons dominate Ladies Sevens series

A review of Saturday's Ladies Sevens Series.

Falcons were in top form durin the Ladies Sevens Series. Photo by Ian Aquillina
Falcons were in top form durin the Ladies Sevens Series. Photo by Ian Aquillina

By Phil Gibbs

Match 1 – Falcons 24 Overseas 5

On a perfect day for running rugby, with no wind and a dry pitch, Falcons kicked off in what turned out to be the best of the three games.  They won possession and demonstrating speed, skill and subtlety switched the ball left and right, looking for a gap in the Overseas defence.  Hard tackling from Overseas held the line, until Silvia Gambino sniffed out a space through the centre and broke through to score the first try, which was converted by Marion Azzopardi. In the next play, Falcons won a penalty in the scrum, and Noemi Perez was yellow-carded for not retreating 10 metres. Azzopardi took it quickly and deftly slipped the ball to Gambino, who burst through for her second try.  Azzopardi missed the conversion.

Falcons then won another penalty when Overseas were penalised for playing the ball on the floor, and Katka Vrbacka broke away down the wing, only to be bundled into touch by Overseas.

From the lineout, Overseas won their first penalty, and Tessabella Sultana made a strong 30-metre run, but the ball was turned over by Falcons, and a surging break by Deborah Cutajar up the wing beat the chasing Overseas defence and she scored a stunning individual try. At half- time, Falcons turned round with a 19-point lead

Overseas started the second half with a long kick-off, which was gathered by Caroline Gafa. She ran it back to the opposing 22-metre line, but the resulting maul went nowhere, and Overseas won the scrum put-in.

They won the set piece and the ball was taken up by Sairata Cassar with a strong, surging run to Falcons 5-metre line. Francesca Bartolo was sin-binned for not rolling away, and from the penalty Charlotte Evans moved the ball inside to Sultana, who touched down. The conversion was missed.

From the restart, Gafa kicked into touch, but Falcons won the lineout, and the ball was shipped along the line, only for winger Kimberley Riolo to knock on with the line beckoning. Falcons won the scrum, and gained a penalty from a high tackle which could well have resulted in a yellow card. From the penalty, Azzopardi cleverly switched play to Bartolo, who offloaded to Vrbacka. She whipped the ball to Riolo, who made up for her earlier lapse by sprinting in to score the final try, and Falcons ran out 24-5 winners, although Overseas could feel slightly hard done by, as the score did not reflect the hard defensive work they put in throughout.

Player of the match – Silvia Gambino

Match 2 - Kavallieri 0 Falcons 15

The second game was a scrappy affair, with play in the first half concentrated around the halfway line as both sides fought to establish dominance, but a series of unforced errors, particularly knock-ons, by both teams led to every promising attacking move breaking down, and a disappointing first half ended in stalemate at 0-0.

In the second half, Falcons upped the pace, and after a high tackle from both sides went unpunished, Donevellon Sladden showed great leg strength to power through a holding tackle before moving the ball to Riolo and then switched inside to Bartolo, who carried over to score the opening try for Falcons.  The conversion was missed.

From the kick-off, Kavallieri moved the ball to halfway, and then knocked on. Azzopardi picked up the ball from the base of the scrum and slipped the tackler before firing the ball out to Riolo who darted over the try line for Falcons second score.

Falcons third, and best, try came towards the end, when a tiring Kavallieri defence were caught flat-footed by the pace of their opponents bristling attacking line, and again it was an Azzopardi break which made space for the speedy Riolo to loop round the chasing players to score.

Player of the match – Kimberley Riolo

Match 3 – Overseas 26 Kavallieri 5

Early in the first half, Kavallieri won a penalty for a high tackle, and Sara Debono, moved the ball wide to Katherine Moore, who passed out wide to Amanda Cassar on halfway. She showed terrific pace to outsprint the chasing players up the right wing and score the opening try.

Both teams then traded penalties, and from a breakdown in the centre of the field and, taking advantage of a scrum infringement escaping the attention of the referee, Sultana gathered the ball and ran through unopposed to level the scores. The try was converted by Clara Castillo.

From the kick off, Kavallieri put in a strong run to the opposition 22-metre line, but Sultana ripped the ball free in the maul. Good interplay between the Overseas forwards should have resulted in a second try, but the ball was knocked on, bringing the first half to an end.

The second half brought in a period of Overseas dominance, as the impressive Perez showed a nice turn of speed to power up the right wing from halfway, only to be brought down by a scything covering tackle by A Cassar on the try line. Perez was adjudged to have brushed the sideline before touching down and the try was disallowed. Seconds later, Overseas made up for the disappointment, when they were awarded a penalty after a strong drive for the line. Sultana took it quickly and sent Sairita Cassar over too score. Castillo unluckily hit the post from the conversion attempt to leave the score at 12-5.

Soon after, Perez was penalised for obstruction, and Kavallieri moved the ball to the 22-metre line, before S Cassar ripped the ball out of the maul and made good ground towards the line, eventually passing to Perez, who lost the ball to Maria Spiteri. She knocked forward in the next tackle, and from the scrum, Sultana made a powerful break before finding S Cassar, who touched down for her second try. With Kavallieri on the ropes, Overseas sealed the win with a second try and conversion from Perez after combining delightfully with S Cassar following another turnover.

Player of the match – Noemi Perez   

Referees – Sam Ramage, Celine Smith

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