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Cutajar makes the difference

Kavallieri launch an attack against Falcons at the Marsa rugby ground. Photo: Ian Stilon

Kavallieri launch an attack against Falcons at the Marsa rugby ground. Photo: Ian Stilon

Kavallieri 28
Falcons 22

This thrilling match was the final fixture from the round robin stage of the Mediterranean Bank Cup, determining which of the teams would oppose Stompers in the semi-finals.

The encounter was a good example of the raising standards of rugby in Malta with so many young players coming through.

Falcons led the charge from the kick-off with penetrating individual charges and accurate kicks, putting the Kavallieri line in danger.

Their drive and offload style was paying off but then a dropped pass was pounced on by Kavallieri’s Bugeja and he outran Kawara for a good 60 metres to score rather against the run of play. The try was converted by Cutajar.

The speed of backs Dalton, Imbroll and Bugeja made Kavallieri a constant threat now. They broke well from a series of loose mauls, then passed well to stretch Falcons’ cover and Bugeja had the speed to score again – Cutajar converted from wide.

Chretien, of Falcons, earned a yellow card and ten minutes in the sinbin for a deliberate knock on and Kavallieri took full advantage of the extra man.

Sam Zammit barged forward and put Cutajar in for another try, which he again converted and Kavallieri were running away.

A little luck came Kavalleri’s way when a chip kick bounced off a player and into the eager arms of Imbroll. His quick reaction enabled him to score by the posts, giving Cutajar an easy conversion and Kavallieri a very commanding 28-0 lead.

Just before half-time, Falcons clicked into higher gear and after a series of bursts finally registered their first points on the scoreboard following an Andre Galea try.

Azzopardi failed to convert.

Falcons resumed with the same resolve as they had finished the first half and with the dropping wind at their back they pressed hard until Borg scored another try... but again no conversion.

Kavallieri’s scrum were pushing Falcons back until prop Zahra was yellow carded and Falcons dominated the tight scrums in his absence.

They laid siege to the Kavallieri line until Holliday powered along the line and transferred to Scicluna who burrowed over for another try. Now, the Kavallieri lead was under threat.

An excellent individual break by Falcons was halted by a try-stopping tackle from Horne.

But Falcons again worked their way back to attack despite the gallant tackling by Kavallieri.

Inevitably, the pressure told and with ten minutes to go, Vella scored. This time Holliday converted and there were only six points in it.

Kavallieri realised that attack was the best way to defend and they proceeded to exert their own territorial pressure as Falcons’ eagerness led to a few wild passing and thinking.

In the final minutes, Kavallieri’s Vassallo was yellow carded for an illegal headlock but Falcons fell just short of achieving an amazing comeback from being 28 points down.

With both sides scoring four tries, the difference in the end was the pin-point accuracy of the kicking of Cutajar.

Men of the match: Cutajar (Kavallieri), Holliday (Falcons).

Semi-finals: Stompers vs Kavallieri; Overseas vs Falcons.

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