Malta beats Sweden at the buzzer

Tuesday, November 10, 2009, 14:25

On a beautiful day, with a blue sky and a few clouds, but a stiff breeze blowing down the ground, around 3000 spectators at the Hibernian’s Football Ground in Paola, were treated to a heart stopping game of Rugby.

Whichever side you supported, you could never be quite confident that your team was going to win, as first Malta took the lead,only then to see the Swedes coming back at them, to snatch the lead away again.Penalty to Sweden for not rolling away in the tackle.

Sweden 3 Malta 0

It was a hard fought game, with Malta looking to move the ball wide and giving their speedsters some room to move, but to do that you need quick, tidy ball which the smaller Maltese forwards were able to provide, competing well in the scrums and lineouts against their bigger Swedish opponents.

The Swedish loose forwards though, were a bit quicker to the tackle and did stem the flow of ball for a while, getting the turnover ball and then playing their own game with their big forwards crashing it up.

With James O’Brien running into the backline at pace we were able to split the Swedish defence to score wide out.

But Sweden kept on battering away and managed to win a penalty and kick the three points.


Marzella scores the first try

Malta 5 Sweden 3

And so the game see sawed, with each team dominating in phases, but never being able to get enough points on the board to get confident. Rohan Spiteri put up a flighted kick into the wind, which the Swedish winger couldn’t control and with a pick up of the loose ball and quick hands, it was out to Marzella to score in the corner.

Malta 12 Sweden 3

But just as the first half was coming to a close the Swedish flyhalf took on the defence and stepped his way through, to score near the touchline.

Malta 12 Sweden 8

The game swung around into the second half, with Malta just in front, but now with a strong breeze at their backs, but it was the Swedish scrumhalf who scored with a dummy pass,from a ruck a sidestep and over, after a prolonged blitz on the Maltese line.Sweden at this point in the game, seemed more hungry for a win and raised the tempo of the game, crashing their big forwards into the Maltese defence.

Sweden 15 Malta 12

Back came Malta with quick ball wide and once again O’Brien ran sweetly into the backline taking a pass from Spiteri on the double round, to score out wide again.

Malta 17 Sweden 15

As a spectacle the game was marred by some dropped passes, creating a stop start sort of game, the Australian Referee Hoffman,who lives in Portugal kept the game under his control but tried to play advantage, when he could, to keep the game flowing.Malta scores again with quick hands.

Malta 22  Sweden 15

A penalty to Sweden.

Malta 22 Sweden 18

After Sweden scored again to take the lead, it was a nervous Maltese crowd, who with drums, whistles and horns ablowing tried to encourage their team on, to make that last concerted effort.

Sweden 23 Malta 22

So it was down to that last minute, when Malta were given a penalty wide out on the touchline,for  hands in the ruck, up stepped Man of the Match, O’Brien to calmly read the swirling winds with a great kick, to send the crowd into raptures.

Jubilant Maltese players after the game

Jubilant Maltese players after the game

It must be said, at the moment of the kick, the sound of heart attacks and rattling rosary beads echoed around the ground!

The Rugby Gods smile on you sometimes, as it was today, but then we remember our loss to Croatia in the last minute, in last season’s fixture.We feel for the Swedish who put in a brave effort, only to see the win snatched away at the death.

Coach Damian Neill and staff must have run the whole gamut of emotions on this day and now they all deserve a well earned rest, after a very intense two week campaign.Well done team, you made Malta proud.

Final Score: Malta 25 Sweden 23.

Malta: I. Borda, H. Collins, P. Bradley, L. Watts, D. Psaila, M. Bonavia, J. Howland, R. Bonavia, M. Mirabelli, R. Spiteri, L. Culnane (5), D. Busuttil, P. Marzella (5), J. O’Brien (15). Subs used: T. Pace Moore, J. Finlayson.

Sweden: M. Macdonald, J.O. Johansson, M. Thorhard, I. Bengtsson, v. Pettersson, A. Letele, A. Daish (5), S. Taylor, L. Sandberg, T. Ardvisson (5), S. Tegunimataka, P. Mathews (5), A. Taylor, J. Borg, T. Johansson (8). Subs used: F. Cassalhag, P. Sullivan, P. Wiklund, R. Ormberg.

Referee: M Hoffman (Portugal).

Remaining Matches:
17/04/2010     Latvia     vs.     Sweden     in Riga
17/04/2010     Netherlands     vs.     Malta     in Amsterdam
24/04/2010     Croatia     vs.     Netherlands     in Split
24/04/2010     Malta     vs.     Latvia     in Paola Hibernians Stadium
01/05/2010     Sweden     vs.     Croatia     in Enkoping

Ranking Division 2B

Team No W D L Diff. Pts
1 Netherlands 6 6 0 0 112 18
2 Croatia 6 5 0 1 48 16
3 Malta 6 3 0 3 -22 12
4 Sweden 6 1 0 5 -14 8
5 Latvia 6 0 0 6 -124 6

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