Ladies International Invitation Sevens Rugby Tournament 2017

Thursday, March 2, 2017, 22:15

Phil Gibbs

This year’s event took place at Marsa over the weekend and featured Lugi Lions, a Swedish club team, The Czech Republic International Development team, the Swiss Barbarians and two Maltese mixed-club teams, the Barbarians and the Pirates. Saturday’s qualifying games saw the unbeaten Czechs top the table, Malta Barbarians in second, and the Swiss Barbarians in third.

Sunday kicked off with fourth-placed Pirates playing Lugi Lions for a semi-final spot.

Lions won the game 27 – 0, with a hat-trick of tries from the impressive Elizabeth Sonnenholzner, and one each for Martina Vivlunder and Hannah Septof.

The first semi-final pitted the two Barbarians teams against each other, and it was the Swiss who opened the scoring in the first minute, when Carole Casparis pounced on a  ball spilled by Sairita Cassar in the tackle. They doubled their advantage shortly after when Nicole Insand cleverly intercepted a Maltese pass in her own half and ran 60 metres to score. Her conversion hit the post.

The Malta team struck back quickly from a lineout when Marion Azzopardi neatly sidestepped her defender and swung the ball left to Amanda Cassar, who slipped the ball to Jacqueline Richard. The fleet – footed winger clinically finished off the move, and with the try converted, the first half ended 10 – 7 to the Swiss.

Malta Barbarians continued their recovery in the second half, when a backpedalling Azzopardi picked out Tessabelle Sultana – Evans with her pass, who in turn unleashed Cassar to put in a penetrating run down the right before she returned the compliment by offloading to the supporting Sultana – Evans who ran in to score.

The Swiss fought their way back into the game, but failed to capitalize on two penalties. They then gave away a penalty themselves and Azzopardi and Beverie Sultana combined to free up Cassar, who weaved through two attempted tackles to touch down.

The Maltese girls put the game to bed with the final try from a quickly taken tap-penalty by Cassar, which allowed Sultana – Evans to take the ball to within scoring distance before shipping the ball out to Sultana, who showed her strength to reach out for the score after being hauled down on the line. The game ended Malta Barbarians 22 Swiss Barbarians 10

In the second semi – final, the hot favourites from the Czech Republic proved too strong for their Swedish opponents in this ultimately one-sided game. However, the Lions showed great spirit with some aggressive tackling and heroic defending in the first half to hold the Czechs to a solitary unconverted try by Svobodova following a penalty for a high tackle. Unfortunately, as the Swedish fell off the pace, the floodgates opened in the second half with two quick tries from the inspirational Martina Hlavocova, the second a brilliant solo effort, followed by further scores from Paulina Cuprava and Katerina Novakova to leave the final score 33 – 0 in the Czech team’s favour.

Tournament Final

Malta Barbarians 7 Czech Republic 47

The Czechs won the toss and kicked off, and the Barbarians ran out of space and into touch on their first attack. The Czechs won the lineout and a penalty for offside. From the tap, Martina Damborova was wrapped up, but the ball was ripped by Paulina Cuprova who then worked a deft one-two with Martina Hlavacova to score in the right corner. The conversion was missed, and from the restart, the Barbarians took the next scrum against the head, but knocked on. From the resulting scrum, the Czechs won a scrappy ball from a rebound off the referee’s foot. A grateful Hlavacova gathered the ball and sent Cuprova down the right to score. This time, the try was converted and, at 12 – 0, the Maltese needed a score to relieve the unrelenting pressure from the Czechs. Maria Spiteri was penalised for taking the opposing scrum half too early at the scrum, but Azzopardi intercepted the pass from the penalty, and ran to within 30 metres of the try-line before being tackled. Katka Vrbacka killed the ball coming in illegally from the side and was yellow – carded. From the penalty, the ball was worked wide to the left and Cassar sprinted down the wing to finish off the move. She converted her own try to bring the first half to a close with Barbarians trailing by 5 points.

At the start of the second half, Barbarians needed to take advantage of the sinbinned Czech player, but it was the Czechs who kept possession under pressure from the Maltese, and they eventually worked the ball wide to Katerina Novokova, who unleashed a devastating 60 – metre sprint down the left flank to score. The try was converted and the gap opened up to 10 points. With the Czechs back to full-strength, they began to run rampant against a tiring Maltese defence. First, Damborova scored after the referee played advantage following a Barbarians knock on, then Vrbacka burst through the centre and dabbed down under the posts after some neat interplay involving the irrepressible Hlavacova. The Maltese were being cut apart by wave after wave of Czech attacks continually finding unmarked players out wide, and any ball they won was snuffed out by the Czechs impressive drift defence. Hlavacova added another try to her tally between the sticks, and with the clock running down, Petra Vackova added her name to the scoreboard after a beautifully worked move involving four Czech attackers, With the game out of sight, the whistle blew to leave the final score 47-7 and the cup firmly in Czech hands.

Player of the tournament – Martina Hlavacova (Czech Republic)

Best Maltese player – Amanda Cassar

Fair play team award – Lugi Lions

First-day scores

Pirates 0 Czech Rep 29, Swiss Barbarians 29 Lugi Lions 0, Czech Rep 31 Malta Barbarians 0, Lugi Lions 12 Pirates 17, Malta Barbarians 7 Swiss Barbarians 7, Czech Rep 43 Lugi Lions 0, Malta Barbarians 15 Pirates 5, Swiss Barbarians 5 Czech Rep 40, Lugi Lions 14 Malta Barbarians 14, Pirates 0 Swiss Barbarians 32


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