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Malta hopefuls prove themselves

Malta ‘A’ beat the HMS Ocean side in a friendly at Marsa. Photo: Zara Ameen

Malta ‘A’ beat the HMS Ocean side in a friendly at Marsa. Photo: Zara Ameen

Malta ‘A’ Selection 43
HMS Ocean Selection 19

This was a good run out in fine weather 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.

The local selection immediately imposed superiority in the set scrums but the much bigger Navy boys had a distinct advantage as they charged into the rucks and mauls and ripped through tackles.

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 Richard Gum.

The Malta backs always looked dangerous, losing another score by a dropped pass. After strong pressure by Ocean, Cassar made a repeat break and passed perfectly to Gum who read his support role just right before adding the extra points.

With the wind behind them, the Ocean crew charged back and huge lock Boorne charged over for a try, converted by Prendergast.

The visitors were hitting hard and the lighter Maltese were feeling it. Gum took a quick throw in and Vinnie Cost-Chritien ran a good 50 metres but just lost control of his chip ahead.

It was interesting to see international scrum half Max Galea playing at fly half, which might be a hint for the future.

At half-time Malta ‘A’ led 14-7.

Against the wind, Ocean started well with territorial pressure but Malta defence stood firm, launching two well-handled attacks along the back line until Cost-Chritien stepped in and out to score, no conversion.

Then came a piece of magic vision and timing by Gum as Galea took a perfectly-timed inside pass to score, Gum converted.

Next score was created by Joe Azzopardi. He 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, Gum converted.

However, for the third time Malta failed to deal with the kick off, giving possession to the Navy boys and after a missed tackle on Boorne, Ellor scored a good try after repeated recycles.

That inspired the Malta terrier pack to adopt faster play for Harvey to crash over.

By then, all the Malta squad had a period on the pitch.

Galea made a poor clearance to give away possession, from which the Ocean worked a series of charges and offloads to score their final try, which was converted.

However, the locals deserved to have the last word and another loose clearance kick gave Gum a gift possession which he used superbly to run back and with speed and swerve sliced through the defence.

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