[WATCH] Malta triumphs against Cyprus

Watch highlights of Malta's victory against Cyprus with a score of 31 points to 3, with Malta also taking a bonus point along with the win, having scored five tries.

Malta put in a great performance to defeat Cyprus. Photo by Ian Aquilina
Malta put in a great performance to defeat Cyprus. Photo by Ian Aquilina

By Mike Turner and Bryan Corlett

Malta imposed their authority from the start of the game, especially in the forwards, pushing the heavier Cypriot players backwards in the scrums.

It was all about holding onto the ball, with short passes and hit ups, recycling the ball and winning territory and keeping the Cypriots under constant pressure. The defence from Cyprus didn’t allow Malta to finish some promising moves. Cyprus had the wind behind them but struggled to get out of their half. Malta turned down several penalty kicks in front, to keep imposing their superiority in the front row, starting where they had left off from last week.

Considering the dreadful conditions Malta’s handling was excellent, making it an exciting game to watch. Malta didn’t have an attempt at goal until the 30th minute of the game, showing their intent to play ball in hand rugby and to dominate up front.

On 35minutes finally Cyprus worked their way into the Maltese half and were awarded a penalty by Israeli Referee Ariel Cabral and Zavallis(10) kicked the points to score first against the run of play, it was now 3 nil to Cyprus.

Rhodri Apsee (1) had a big run down left field but the play fizzled out due to lack of support. Holloway (9) ripped the ball from a Cypriot player making a break. Then after a series of rolling mauls near the posts Holliday (2) scored and Morris (15) converted. Taking the lead at half time.

Playing with the wind in the second half, Malta began to play more of a wide game getting the ball to the outside backs. Within four minutes Kirk (14) scored after an interception by Busuttil (12) Morris converted and the lead went out to 14 to 3.

Davey (4) made a break down the touchline but the offload went to ground, a great opportunity was lost.

Basher was blood subbed by Benji Borg (20) Coach Neill began his substitutions early when Cerketta (18) came on for Harvey (3) Hepburn (11) was substituted by O’Brien (22) the fresh legs brought a second  try to Kirk (14) as the passes went wide from quick ball from the forwards.

Cyprus upped  their intensity trying to get back into the game and looked threatening until Davey (4), Morris (15) and Kirk (14) burst out of defence taking the ball well down the field.

From the ensuing lineout a rhythmic Malta passing movement only failed from a poor final pass.

Under the pressure of mounting Cyprus attacks Watts (6) was sin binned for repeated offside. With a one man advantage Cyprus looked dangerous until a breakout upfield by the Malta backs worked the ball to O’Brien (22) who stepped and twirled past three men to score an unconverted try. 24 to 3.

Referee Cabral warned Malta for persistent offending. Holliday went down injured and was substituted by Nathan Gatt (17). Cyprus charged down a chip kick and broke down field but a scoring pass was dropped with the line open.

Julian Galea (21) substituted Holloway (9) but it did not affect the continuing speed of the Malta attacks. Spiteri (16) Bezzina (19) and Debattista (23) were the final subs for Malta meaning every player in the squad got a game.

Malta’s attacks continued until the pack drove over from a scrum for Daniel Apsee (7) touching down and Morris converted to bring the final score to 31 to 3.

Malta Man of the Match: Rhodri Apsee (1) Cyprus: Demetri Grigoriou (1)