Bulgaria’s pressure shut down Malta’s running game, in this Conference 1 South, European Rugby
competition. Winning 21 to 14.
Hibernian’s Stadium was in pristine condition, the sun was shining with a slight breeze blowing
down the ground
It was the start of Malta’s international Rugby season, with this first game against Bulgaria, then to
be followed a week later against Slovenia away.
The first half was all one way traffic with Bulgaria calling the shots and Malta struggling to get out
of their half.
It was all about resistance, trying to knock over the big Bulgarian forwards as they began to gain
confidence.Tom Holloway put is some try saving tackles as the Bulgarians broke through, Jethro
Zammit Randich knock over a runner as the last man in the defence.
The only time Malta got out of their half in the first 40 minutes was from the restarts after Bulgaria
kicked their penalties.
Smilko Debrenliev(12) kicked penalties on 12, 25 and and a huge kick from half way on 28 minutes
taking the score out to: Bulgaria 9, Malta 0.
A yellow card to Bulgaria’s winger Svetislav Odadzhiyski(11) opened a window of opportunity for
Malta and they lifted their game briefly, finally moving the ball wide with some continuity.
But with one man down, back came the men in green to score wide out in the corner Ilia
Dimitrov(14) crashing over, Debrenliev having a good day with the boot drilled it.
The half time score was Bulgaria 16, Malta 0.
Malta needed to keep a hold of the ball and get some fire in their eyes.
The second half started with Malta looking a bit more lively after Coach Damian Neill’s wind up at
On attack a scrum penalty on 5 metres saved Bulgaria, frustrating Malta again as they got close to
The expected come back in the second half just never happened as mistakes crept into Malta’s
play, dropped passes, poor line outs and lost scrums, all attributed to their lack of go forward.
Bulgaria gained in confidence as the game wore on and started moving the ball around in the
backs and offloading in the forwards.
Malta spent all their time defending and their ball retention when they had the ball just wasn’t long
enough to build any phase play and so stretch the big Bulgarian forwards.
The loss of playmaker and crack tackler Robert Holloway(10) to a shoulder injury in the first half
caused a reshuffle in the backs with Dudman(13) moving into standoff. The Maltese forwards and
backs were tackling like demons, but they were tiring in the second half, having put in over 100
The two tries in the second half were reward for some team work, with the forwards crashing it up,
Liam Scicluna(18) scored after a patient build-up, then Jethro Zammit Randich(15) scored wide out
as the backs finally received some front football to skirt the Bulgarian defense.Liam after he
scored proudly pointed at the emblem on his shirt, to show his passion.
This was a challenging start to the International season and now it’s up to Slovenia for the second
It was a tough game, but we need to see the positives, a 21 to 14 scoreline was not a thrashing,
Malta scored two tries to Bulgaria’s two and some new club players were introduced to the
international game and will be the better for it. Now it’s to regroup, lick the wounds, and come out
Referee: Lukasz Jasinski (Poland)
AR: Mauro Miceli (Malta) Robert Diaconascu (Roumania)
Men of the Match: Bulgaria: Vasil Borisov(9) Malta: Thomas Holloway (9)
Write-up by: Bryan Corlett