Malta roars back to winning form

Malta stormed back to winning form at a sun drenched Hibs Stadium, demolishing a brave Israeli side, scoring four tries to register a bonus point as well as the winners points.

Malta were in top form against Israel. Photo by Ian Aquilina
Malta were in top form against Israel. Photo by Ian Aquilina


By Mike Turner

The match was brilliantly managed by young Welsh referee Craig Evans, who imposed his control in the very first minute, awarding Malta a penalty for holding on to the ball after the tackle, so Malta took an almost immediate three point lead. Mistakes in Israeli handling led to a Malta attack, with Morris putting a perfectly paced kick to be gathered by Holloway to score, Morris converting and Malta stretched the lead to ten points.

Abutbul responded for Israel with a penalty against Malta for holding. Thus encouraged Israel, with wind at their backs pressed territorially but Abutbul missed a drop goal attempt.  The Israeli lineout drill was very effective, but a break by Watts for Malta was only stopped by desperate defence. Under pressure the Israelis went offside and Morris converted another penalty to build the lead to 13-3.

Israel looked dangerous when Maguid pounced on the ball and kicked into the corner. However a superb break out by Malta’s Hepburn, which was well supported, was only stopped by a knock on. A little dithering at scrum half led Malta to waste some good chances, and Israel had a slight territorial advantage, and scored another penalty when a real muddle led to Malta being offside, 13-6. Hard running and good back up led to Wats scoring again for Malta, Morris converting. Israel hit back in the tight scrum for another penalty by Abutbul, to leave the half time score 20-9.

At the start of the second half Malta went straight into the attack with two breaks and a drive for Harvey to score, Morris missed an easy kick. Malta tackling always looked capable of dealing with Israeli attacks. For a while their pack camped on the Maltese line but Malta held them out, at least twice the powerful Israeli centre Eli, broke through several tackles, but was never well enough supported to score. Malta were throwing away opportunities by sloppy handling and poor choices in kicking. Collins shone with several driving runs and when the subs came on Malta suddenly had the better of the tight scrums and drives. Finally Malta scrum drove at the line and Davy came off the back to score, to reach the final score.

A much needed and well deserved win to revive Malta`s fortunes and confidence.