Rugby: Malta Hopefuls Prove Themselves against HMS Ocean

Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 16:23

Mike Turner

Malta A         43  vs HMS Ocean  19

This was a good run out in fine weather, despite a strong wind, for the rising force of young local players to get their teeth into some good foreign based opposition, and the result was pleasing to see.  Malta immediately imposed superiority in the set scrums, shoving the Ocean pack backwards. However the much bigger Navy boys had a distinct advantage as they charged into the rucks and mauls and ripped through tackles. Malta`s throwing in and lineout system was inconsistent.

The first score came from Clayton Cassar bursting off the back of the scrum and timing a scoring pass to the speedy Aaron Galea, despite a superb covering tackle by the Ocean winger, converted by Gumm. The Malta backs always looked dangerous, losing another score by a dropped pass. After strong pressure by Ocean, using their physical size, Cassar made a repeat break and passed perfectly to Gumm who read his support role just right, then added the conversion. With the wind behind them, led by their number 8,  the Ocean crew charged back and Ellor led an attack by breaking three tackles and after some swift passes, the huge lock Boorne charged over for a try converted by Prendergast. The Navy side were hitting hard and the lighter Maltese were feeling it. Gumm took a quick throw in and Vinnie Cost-Chritien ran a good fifty metres but just lost control of his chip ahead. It was interesting to see, Max Galea, international scrum half playing at fly half, which might be a hint for the future. Half time score was 14-7 to Malta A.

Against the wind Ocean started well with territorial pressure but Malta defence stood firm, launching two well handled attacks along the back line until wing Cost Chretien stepped in and out to score, no conversion. Then came a piece of magic vision and timing by Gumm and then Max Galea who took a perfectly timed inside pass to score, Gumm converted. Next score was created by Joe Azzopardi who came in off his wing to snap a loose clearance by Ocean and launch two back attacks to put Aaron Borg over for another try, Gumm converted. However, for the third time Malta failed completely to deal with the kick off, giving possession to the big Navy boys and after a poor missed tackle on the massive Boorne, Ellor scored a good try after repeated recycles. This inspired the Malta terrier pack to work revenge by being faster on the ball to recycle for Harvey to crash over.

By then all the Malta squad had a period on the pitch, and Max Galea made a poor clearance to give away possession, from which the Oceans worked a series of charges and offloads against their inexperienced opponents to score their final try ,which was converted.. However Malta deserved to have the last word and another loose clearance kick gave Gumm a gift possession which he used superbly to run back and with speed and swerve sliced through the defence. The final score was a convincing win for Malta, but a nagging worry is their absolute incapability to deal with kick off ball. However the rising challenge for the National team by the local youngsters gives real promise for the future.

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