|Malta Origin and Sliema Stompers winners in opening round|
Malta Origin and Sliema Stompers recorded first up victories at the Balzan FC Ground in last night’s opening round of the 2012 MRL Dove Men+Care Championship.
A spirited Gozo team asserted themselves throughout against Malta Origin as the improvers of Maltese rugby after only forming 18 months ago and were well led by their senior players in Debattista, Hili and Micallef-Moreno. The Gozitans trailed by only four points at half time.
Their opposition (Malta Origin) however was adamant to keep them at bay, a Sam Keep(pictured right) special off a superb ball by Maltese-Australian Dylan Frendo caught everybody’s eyes and it was an evening of dashing runs with Malta Origin’s Joey Criminale crossing for four tries to push his claims for another national team callup next month.
Gozo weren’t to be outdone, Troy McLean with some blistering sideline escapades and Gozo’s own Malta international Gary Hili crossed for two tries of his own through the middle for the Gozitans.
Gozo rotated their goal kickers after 20 minutes of play from Micallef-Moreno to Hussain, but spearheaded by Criminale and Frendo, Malta Origin weren’t to be beaten on the night.
Tempers frayed towards the end of the match but only just as referee Gosney was required to call full time. Malta Origin seeing out Gozo RL 40-32.
Kavallieri RL v Sliema Stompers
Former Gateshead Thunder star Roderick Attard’s men were hampered by last minute withdrawals, loaning four players from the Malta Origin squad that had played earlier in the night, and had all the work to do against a well drilled Sliema based team. Although the Stompers went in at half-time with only a four-point lead at 22 to 18.
The Sliema Stompers benefited from four Matthew Camilleri (pictured bottom right) tries, three of them in the second stanza, and were helped by their strong wide running props Dragan Cerketa in the middle and John Ellul down the left flank.
Captain-coach Malcolm Attard was strong throughout as well as kicking 9 from 10 in strong winds, equally matched by his opposite number kicking a just as impressive 7 from 8.
Young Joe Paolella was tested from a kickoff late in the match as Cerketa and Ellul combined to lay on a smashing tackle on the 17-year-old prop.
A strong finishing Kavallieri RL couldn’t catch the Stompers in the end, Sliema Stompers defeating Attard's men 58-46 in a high scoring affair to close out match-day one.
A headbutting charge against Troy McLean (Gozo RL) from the Gozo RL vs Malta Origin match will be reviewed by the MRL Match Review Committee on Thursday.
2012 MRL DOVE MEN+CARE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCHDAY 1 RESULTS
Malta Origin 40 (J.Criminale 4, S.Keep 2, D.Frendo, L.Naphausen tries; D.Frendo 4 from 8 goals) defeated
Sliema Stompers 58 (M.Camilleri 4, D.Cerketa 2, J.Ellul 2, M.Attard, N.Gatt tries; M.Attard 9 from 10 goals) defeated
2012 MRL Dove Men+Care Championship Standings:
Top Try Scorers: 4: M.Camilleri (Sliema Stompers) and J.Criminale (Malta Origin)
Match-Day 2 Fixtures: Malta Origin v Kavallieri RL, Sliema Stompers v Gozo RL
Photos: Matthew Scerri
Interactive: Photos by Matthew Scerri and MRLTV's raw footage from the opening match-day can be found online at www.facebook.com/MALTARL