13th November 2021
This European Conference 1 South game, after withstanding a very physical battle with the big Israeli forwards, is eventually won by Malta 15 points to 13.
Malta’s first home game in two years against Israel, a game that was cancelled when Covid19 struck in March 2020.
If you have never attended an International Malta Rugby game then put it on your bucket list, you don’t know what you are missing. It’s pumping music, with the South End core supporters decked out in their regalia, waving flags, beating drums with trumpets a blazing. Quite the experience!
Malta had come off a win over Slovenia away by 24 to 10, but Israel is another matter.
The road has been long with many a winding turn for Israel, through Turkey with their kit staying there and having to play in white with newly purchased socks in Malta.
- Israel kicked off in perfect conditions and immediately sent their forwards into the fray earning a penalty for Malta not rolling away in a tackle, a kick into the corner, a catch and drive but held up over the line. A goal line drop out takes the pressure off Malta. Rob Holloway(10) takes a knock as he chop tackles a big Israeli forward.
- The big Israeli forwards are crashing it up in waves, keeping Malta under pressure, Jeremy Debattista(14) takes a knock on 10 minutes he is carried off and is replaced. Malta’s resolute defence pushes Israel back, forcing a knock on.
- But a turnover gives the ball back to Israel from a scrum penalty. In waves Israel kept coming but the Maltese defence held firm, another knock on gives the ball to Malta. An early push in the scrum, a free kick to Malta, but the up and under brought no rewards.
- Referee Mendez awarded a penalty to Israel for the tackler not rolling away Gordon (10) kicked the goal, Israel takes the lead on 16 minutes. 3 nil.
- Penalty against Malta for a head high tackle on an Israeli runner as he tries to burst through Malta’s defensive wall.
- Malta’s defence is up quickly as Israel try to run the ball, shutting down their attack.
- Offside Malta is penalised 35 metres out in front of the posts, Gordon kicks another 3 points, Israeli 6 Malta 0.
- Dalton has a good run down the flank dummying a defender, penalty Malta for a player going off their feet. Dudman(13) stepped up 45 metres out, the kick hit the upright and Israel knocked on, a scrum to Malta inside their 22.
- Malta finally made it inside Israel’s 22 Holloway(9) went blind fed Gum(15) who forced his way over out wide. No conversion
- Malta 5 Israel 6.
- Finally Malta began to build phases forcing Israel to tackle, they win a penalty when Israel go off their feet. Dudman drills it from 40 metres.
- Malta 8, Israel 6.
- Again Israel attack, but an interception by Busutil(12) turned the tide our way and a Malta penalty 40 metres out. The left footed Dudman puts the ball to the left of the posts.
- Half time Malta 8 Israel 6.
- Second Half.
- Malta kicked off to start the second half as the ambulance took Debattista off to hospital.
- Dalton tracking back catches and kicks long from inside his 22 tking play inside Israel’s half. Manjavidze(7) their energetic flanker is carried off, his presence will be sorely missed by Israel, he was a standout.
- A penalty to Israel they kicked into the corner but a poor line out throw allowed Malta to gain possession.
- Israel kept Malta under a lot of pressure. Cerketta(3) king hits their (6) Engel to close down a promising Israeli sorte into Maltese territory.
- Just when Malta looked good out wide with a tgree on one, Raistein(11) intercepted the pass and weaved his way to the tryline, Gordon(10) converted and Israel were now in the lead 13 to 8. Malta needed to up their game and build some phases. Gum ran from deep after Holloway(9) took a fine catch down low from a Levinson(9) box kick.
- Finally in Israel’s 22, (18) Eli is yellow carded on 28 minutes. Malta is now on the attack winning penalties as Israel infringe. But Malta are penalised for pulling down a ruck. But then Malta win a penalty and kick into the Israel 22.
- Relentless attack with forwards hitting it up, finally Mark Davey(8) scored wrestling his way over Dudman converted Malta 15 Israel 13. Israel are penalised when a forward entered the ruck from the side.
- It’s a tense time in the last quarter of the game and Malta needed to get into Israel’s 22 again. Martin(2) is substituted and Mathew Spiteri(16) came on. Malta won a penalty 45 metres out, Dudman’s kick swung wide. After only minute on the field Spiteri is yellow carded for a high tackle.
- Malta now down to 14 in the last 10 minutes of the game. A penalty goes Malta’s way, for Israel going off their feet when Malta had their backs to the wall inside their 22.It’s frantic Rugby trying to keep Israel at bay. An Israeli penalty is missed. From the 22 metre drop out, Dudman drops a neat kick rolling the ball out to end the game to an ecstatic cheer from both players and crowd!
- Malta’s defence once again won the day, knocking back the big Israeli forwards as 2 or 3 tacklers stopped them in their tracks. Malta struggled at times to build phases long enough to make any forward momentum, but they did enough to win this home game.
Men of the Match: Malta: Mark Davey, Israel: Omer Levinson.
Article: Bryan L Corlett.