Overseas bounce back

Monday, January 14, 2013, 22:44

by Phill Gibbs 

If ever there was a match which deserved the well-worn cliché ‘a game of two halves’, this was surely it.  With the strong wind behind them, Valletta stormed to a 19 – 0 lead at half-time, playing some of their best rugby this season and leaving Overseas shell-shocked.   Things did not start well for Valletta when their play-maker Max Brincat went off injured early on, but they were not deterred, and opened the scoring when Jurgen Gatt caught an awkwardly bouncing ball and offloaded to Marvin McLean, who used his considerable speed to touch down.  He added to his tally after 20 minutes when he finished off a nicely worked move through the back line. Overseas were hardly out of their half as Valletta dominated possession, adding another try and conversion just before half-time when Overseas were penalised for not retreating 10 metres.  Valletta set up a rolling maul and Jean Paul Farrugia broke away to score.

As the teams turned around and Valletta faced the wind, some touchline sages were doubting whether the lead was enough to secure victory. They were to be proved right as Overseas woke up from their post – Christmas stupor, and Valletta went from magnificent to mundane. Overseas first try came from a mix-up in midfield when two Valletta players both left a bouncing ball which John Boland gratefully scooped up before passing to Jake Buttigieg, who scored on the left.  Valletta tried desperately to defend their lead,  but Overseas closed the gap to 7 points when Mick George broke off the back of the scrum, and cleverly evaded three tackles to slip over for the points.  Chris Hamilton converted, and now Overseas had the bit between their teeth and could sense victory. Valletta launched a frantic attack upfield, but failed to use the overlap, and were eventually penalised for holding on.  Vince Stivala sent a looping pass over the heads of his centres to right – winger Koran, who blasted over.  Things then went from bad to worse for Valletta when they gave away another penalty for playing the ball on the ground, and Clayton Cassar broke through his tackler and powered in under the posts.  The conversion  gave them a 7 point advantage, and this was doubled when Stivala put up a long cross-field kick to the right wing, and found Koran, who caught the ball on the full, put in a clever forward somersault and regained his feet to score in spectacular style. Hamilton converted from a difficult angle, and the turnaround was complete.  All Smiles of relief in the Overseas camp at the final whistle, while Valletta could only shake their heads in disbelief at how they let victory slip through their hands

Man of the match – D G Koran

Referee – Brian Corlett

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