Malta outweighed

Malta were smothered by Swiss weight and size but were hugely disadvantaged by some questionable refereeing. T

The Malta National Rugby Team
The Malta National Rugby Team

By Mike Turner


Malta were smothered by Swiss weight and size but were hugely disadvantaged by some questionable refereeing. The Referee and his assistants seemed quite unaware of the fact that the Swiss backs were consistently able to smother the usually evasive Malta backs from offside and furthermore the heavy Swiss forwards were allowed to do what they wished at the tackle. The Malta lineout was superior but the Swiss dominated the set scrums with their big weight advantage.

Malta gave away a penalty from the kick off to give the Swiss an immediate 3 points, and Malta seemed slow in thought and low in confidence as the Swiss used their strength to dominate territory. They drove the ball into the corner and scored a converted try in the seventh minute. Although under massive pressure, Malta were trying to run the ball out of defence, but were wasting possession by kicking into the hands of the Swiss defence.

Switzerland pressed again and scored a classic corner try by creating an overlap. Because of the offside pressure by Switzerland the Maltese backs were often flatfooted. By the end of the first half Malta were working back into the game and spending time in the Swiss try line area, but could not overcome the often illegal smothering defence. The score at half time was Switzerland 15, Malta 0.

Malta started well in the second half and notched a quick penalty to bring them 3 points. Most of the second half was a much more even contest, but Malta were unlucky not to be able to complete their moves by scores. The Swiss full back was always extremely dangerous with evasive sprints from the back, helped by the inaccurate kicking which gave him the ball too often. The heavy Swiss pack was pushing Malta as they wished, but  were also pushing early, for which they only incurred one penalty. The game really changed when Deguara was given a yellow card for coming in from the side, which seemed very unfair after the Swiss were persistently diving over and smothering the rucks.

Almost immediately Switzerland scored a pushover try, converted to 22-3 ahead. This stung the 14 Maltese into a series of attacks but they simply did not have the final power to score. Switzerland returned to the attack and the 14 defenders could not prevent another try in the converted corner for 29-3. Malta valiantly attacked yet again and when Deguara returned looked dangerous, but it was far too late.

Now the professional Swiss must beat Croatia away to top the group and be promoted. Malta will play Israel at home next Saturday at Hibernians Stadium, kick off at 2pm.