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Malta open with match in Croatia

The Malta rugby team kick off their FIRA/AER Nations Cup qualifying campaign today when they take on Croatia in a Division 2A match away in Makarska (kick-off: 2 p.m.).

National coach Damien Neill named a 25-man squad that travelled to Cirencester in the UK earlier this week for a short training camp ahead of a group double header that also includes the match against Lithuania at the Hibs Stadium on November 3.

Neill will be urging his team to embark on a more positive start to their Nations Cup trek than their previous campaign which took off with successive upsets to Lithuania (6-9) and Latvia (26-33) that eventually cost the team promotion to Division 1B last season.

This will be the eighth match between the two nations with the Croatians holding a 5-2 lead in the head-to-head record.

During the 2011-12 qualifying phase, Malta beat Croatia 21-14 at Corradino but the Croats avenged that upset when seeing off the Maltese 31-16 in Zagreb.

Neill has drafted in some new faces in his squad for this cam-paign. The most notable addition is Adam Kennedy, brother of former Malta international Guy, who has played the game at a high level in Australia.

Tom Davey joins his brother Mark in the squad.

Last season, Tom Davey under-lined his potential with a man-of-the-match performance for Ravens Wood in the U-18 schools final in Twickenham.

The squad also includes four newcomers who ply their trade in the MRFU league.

They are Simon Abela, of Valletta Lions, Overseas’s Nick Wright, Roderick Borg, of Alli-gators and Christian Schranz, of Stompers.

The Squad

K. Mason, D. Holliday, C. Cassar, M. Camilleri, V. Stivala, R. Borg, M. Attard, M. Bonavia, N. Gatt, S. Abela, N. Wright, C. Schranz, M. Davey, A. Kennedy, L. Watts, D. Deguara, H. Collins, D. Apsee, T. Holloway, R. Holloway, J. Morris, D. Busuttil, T. Quarandon, J. O’Brien, T. Davey.

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