Birkirkara RL off to a good start with 50-20 defeat of Gozo
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Birkirkara RL opened their MRL Dove Men+Care Championship account and shot to the top of the ladder with an impressive 50-20 defeat of Gozo RL.
Birkirkara welcomed Malta international Dylan Frendo who returned to the club from Australia, but it was skipper Christian Briffa who stole the show for the newcomers.
The leaner Briffa crossed for three tries, a show and go towards the end of the match was the pick of his tries which he added to with another three conversions.
For Gozo, Mario Mercieca was a standout and crossed for a try as did the Gozitans’ trio of Malta internationals in Hili, Hussain and Debattista.
In a tough yet slower match, livewire Beppe Sammut was dismissed from the field after an accidental spear tackle on McLean in the dying minutes, McLean getting back to his feet after receiving some attention from the ground physio.
Former Malta international Tyson Freeman scored a double and Sri Lankan-Maltese prop come centre Jeremy Dela slammed the ball down in the final seconds to record a 30-point victory for the novices.
Birkirkara captain Briffa chose to praise his team despite his 18 point tally, commenting “Our first experience in league started off better than expected. The coaching staff is well happy with the commitment and the performance of tonight.”
“A strong group of 17 players shows commitment to the different rugby codes we play. Hopefully we’ll have more good games in the future. And well played to Gozo for being fair and sport.”
In a later match Sliema RL looked keen to continue their unbeaten run on the local rugby league scene as they completed a second half flattening of Malta Origin.
The defending premiers were tested early by the ever impressive Malta Origin outfit but the champions were helped by a double to Malta international Dragan Cerketa and Gigi Zammit as they overpowered their opponents 44-16 at Pembroke last night.
Malta Origin pulled a surprise packet with Sydney A Grade recruit David Farrugia collecting a 14 point haul. The former Mascot Jet dived over for two tries from dummy half and converted two goals for a strong all-round effort.
While the whites’ hopes throughout the game rested largely on Michael George who tried hard to create chances up the middle, the 36-year-old playmaker crossed towards the end for a consolation try.
But it was Sliema running the show, Julian Caruana opening the scoring before Owen Jones and Malcolm Attard continued the opening half tally, Sliema taking a 16-10 lead at the break. Simple rugby was the aim of the evening and the result was Sliema kicking away in the second half on the back of some good go forward by the likes of Cerketa, Meintjes, Zammit and Schranz.
Birkirkara RL 50 (C.Briffa 3, T.Freeman 2, B.Borg, B.Orica, G.Mupimhidza, B.Sammut, J.Dela tries; C.Briffa 3/5, D.Frendo 2/3, L.Xuereb 0/2 goals)) defeated
Gozo RL 20 (M.Mercieca, S.F.Hussain, C.Debattista, G.Hili tries; G.Hili 2/4 goals)
H-T: Birkirkara RL 28-6
Players of the Match: Mario Mercieca (Gozo) and Christian Briffa (Birkirkara).
Sliema RL 44 (D.Cerketa 2, G.Zammit 2, J.Caruana, O.Jones, M.Attard, E.Willis, M.Spiteri tries; C.Schranz 3/3, R.Meintjes 1/2, M.Attard 0/3, O.Jones 0/1 goals) defeated
Malta Origin RL 16 (D.Farrugia 2, M.George tries; D.Farrugia 2/3 goals)
H-T: Sliema RL 16-10
Players of the Match: Dragan Cerketa (Sliema) and Jean Pierre Zarb (Malta Origin)
2013 MRL Dove Men+Care Championship Standings (after round 1)
Birkirkara RL 2pts, 1 win, +30
Sliema RL 2pts, 1 win, +28
Malta Origin RL 0pts, 1 loss, -28
Gozo RL 0pts, 1 loss, -30
MRL Dove Men+Care Championship Round 2 Fixtures,
Wednesday 12 June 2013
7:15pm – Malta Origin RL v Gozo RL
8:45pm – Sliema RL v Birkirkara RL.
Photograph by Tamsin Pace Decasare Photography – Birkirkara take on the Gozo defence.