NATIONAL TRIALS CONTINUE THIS FRIDAY 30.07.2021
Athletes of any sporting discipline on the islands are invited to participate in Rugby League on Friday July 30th, 2021.
TIME: 18:30 hours.
PLACE: Marsa Sports Complex - Malta.
AGE REQUIREMENT: 17 and above.
REGO LINK > https://form.jotformeu.com/61451859825364
The trials offer sports people of all abilities an opportunity to compete in the XIII program and gain national team selection for October’s European Rugby League Championship D tournament in Turkey.
Playing jerseys provided.
Please bring your own water bottle, shorts, socks and boots.
Players are also responsible for their own strapping if required.
For further information, contact Malta Head Coach Roderick Attard at THE PIT on 00356 79602723
Photo Credit: Neil Fitzpatrick
RUGBY LEAGUE COMPETITION RETURNS TO MALTA AS BLUE KNIGHTS WIN SEASON OPENER | 24.07.2021
It seemed like forever, but competitive Rugby League finally returned to the islands this weekend when Iswed (Black Knights) hosted Ikħal (Blue Knights) at Marsa.
The evening kick-off wasn't enough to deter Saturday's temperatures reaching a high of 35 degrees, but it was even hotter on the pitch as the Blue Knights staged a late rally to come back and beat out their opposition.
The match doubled as the first trial of the season for the national squad with Malta head coach Roderick Attard watching on from the side-lines.
Attard cast a keen eye as preparations commence ahead of Malta's Euro D Championship commitments in October.
Black Knights looked comfortable early in the match as they raced to a 18-4 half-time lead.
Rami Pinto Prieto crossed for two tries before Origin Expats and Malta XIII representative George Widdop added a four pointer of his own, Robin Cutajar making no mistake with the boot.
Prop Jeremy Dela crashed over for the Blue Knights' lone try of the opening half.
The second half saw no drop in temperatures, and to the contrary - the Blue Knights came home hot as Malta XIII skipper Mark Camilleri collected a double, while debutant Jean Scholey scored a brace, the last try being the all-important difference in a match that saw the sides score 46 points between them.
The game was not short of highlights, brothers George and James Widdop both impressing for Black Knights and Origin Locals prop Justin Farrugia showing a great improvement since pre-COVID times.
For the Blue Knights, former Malta international and Origin Locals representative Shan Francois Hussain turned out a flawless performance in a much lighter and fitter frame than his former self, while Dubai based Malta international Christian Briffa looked good considering he will return home later this weekend to commence pre-season.
Malta will travel to Turkey from 13 to 18 October 2021 for the European Rugby League's D Championship in Bodrum.
Competition for the national squad will continue in Malta every week over the summer until October under the watchful eye of coach Roderick Attard and his local staff.
Ikħal (Blue Knights) 24 (M.Camilleri 2, J.Scholey 2, J.Dela tries, M.Camilleri 2 goals) defeated
Iswed (Black Knights) 22 (R.Pinto Prieto 2, G.Widdop, JP Zarb tries, R.Cutajar 3 goals)
Ref: Anthony Micallef
Saturday 24th July 2021
At Marsa, Malta
NATIONAL TRIALS NEXT SATURDAY | MARSA
Malta Rugby League (MRL) Development would like to extend an invitation to athletes of all disciplines on the island to participate in a Rugby League Trials Day on Saturday July 24th, 2021.
TIME: 18:00 hours
PLACE: Marsa Sports Complex - Malta.
AGE REQUIREMENT: 17 and above.
The program offers sports people of all abilities an opportunity to compete for our upcoming XIII representative program and national team selection.
For further information, contact Malta Head Coach Roderick Attard at THE PIT on 00356 79602723
If you haven't already registered with Malta Rugby League, you can do so here > https://form.jotformeu.com/61451859825364
MALTA NAME KNIGHTS SQUAD AHEAD OF BELMORE CLASH
Malta have gone for a blend of youth and experience in naming an extended squad for this weekend's upcoming International Representative Round.
South Sydney Rabbitohs lock Tallis Duncan and Western Suburbs Magpies forward Anthony Bucca are new faces in the Knights jersey as are Thirroul Centre Scott Galeano and Berkeley Winger Zackary Rodrigues.
Whilst a handful of incumbent test players retain their spot in the 20-man squad, the Maltese have elevated a host of players from their junior heritage development program.
"Assembling this squad is testament to all the hard work Peter Cassar and Narelle Azzopardi have invested over the years in managing our Pathways program in Australia"
"It's important work that they do, and it doesn't go unnoticed" MRL General Manager David Axisa said.
Development Manager Narelle Azzopardi added “Seven players who have progressed through our Maltese junior squads will now get an opportunity to represent their heritage in the Men's team”
Aaron McDonald will return to coach the side after his previous Knights appointment in 2019, a 28-12 win against Turkey at New Era Stadium.
The team will train at Menai Roosters this week on Wednesday night and add the finishing touches to their preparation at Friday nights captain’s run before heading to Belmore for match day.
FIXTURE: Malta Rugby League (MRL) vs Lebanese Cedars Rugby League Football Association.
VENUE: Belmore Sports Ground - 3 Edison Ln, Belmore NSW.
KICK OFF: 7.30pm Saturday 26th June 2021.
Zackary Rodrigues (Berkeley Eagles), Tyson Jackson (Botany Rams), Nathan Benson (Carltons Devils Mackay), Jed Hardy (Cronulla Sharks), Tyson Freeman (Helensvale Hornets), Joel Bradford (Hills Bulls), Jono Dallas (Jamberoo Superoos), Pete Cronin (Kurri Kurri Bulldogs), Corey Gatt (Mounties), Nathan Falzon (Nowra-Bomaderry Jets), Zarrin Galea (Redcliffe Dolphins), Jarrod Xerri, Ryan Azzopardi (Riverstone Razorbacks), Tallis Duncan (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Aidan Glanville (St Marys), Scott Galeano (Thirroul Butchers), Anthony Bucca (Western Suburbs Magpies), Matthew Borg (Western Sydney Two Blues), Christopher Sini (Western Vikings), Tyler Cassel (Windsor Wolves).
IMAGE: Prop Pete Cronin takes the ball forward in the Malta Knights’ last outing against Turkey.
Photo Credit: John Bonanno.
MALTA PRESENT NATIONAL TEAM COACHING STAFF
The Malta Rugby League (MRL) have presented its coaching staff for the 2021 European Championship campaign, heralding the return of former players, captains and coaches.
With former Malta halfback Roderick Attard heading up the Malta coaching staff, former Malta captain Chris Parker (pictured) and ex Malta head coach Anthony Micallef will return to the fold following 5 and 6 years away respectively, the trio joined by Malta based player Mark Camilleri who has been pushing local developments on the island during the group’s absence.
Attard, a former professional player at Gateshead Thunder alongside former Malta captain Chris Parker will utilise Parker as a game plan and strategy assistant.
Roderick commented, "Fitness, simplicity, efficiency and teamwork are going to be our key attributes. I'm a team player myself and I cannot imagine going through this journey without the people I’ve invited to join me in managing this team".
Micallef and Camilleri will be involved as members of Attard’s coaching staff, with the former Malta head coach Micallef looking forward to reviving lost time.
"The rugby codes on the Maltese Islands have been largely dormant over the last few years, and bringing back the team of staff as we’re doing - is something that should revive local interest once again after a strong local presence up to a decade ago", said Micallef.
Micallef added, "There’s a wealth of rugby league knowledge in the new coaching setup, and we expect this to be a first foot forward towards our 2021 commitments".
Attard and Micallef both attained their coaching certificates at London's Brunel University.
Malta XIII fullback Mark Camilleri said, "This campaign will be one that will be dominated by the involvement of local players and staff, and should be Malta’s strongest turnout with such a domestic presence".
Former Malta captain Chris Parker highlighted the opportunity for domestic based players on the back of the head coaching appointment of Roderick Attard.
The former Gateshead Thunder prop commented,"Rod is a great appointment for the MRL. Since I became involved with the MRL, we’ve always pushed for local players to be a mainstay in the national team and for the off-field staff to mirror that".
Parker added,"I’m looking forward to helping mentor Rod in his role of head coach. Us connecting again in the Malta setup is a continuation of our time together as players, both since Rod’s debut with the national team himself over a decade ago, right through to him playing at Gateshead Thunder here in England".
Malta are awaiting the European Rugby League’s announcement later this month which is expected to confirm the Euro D tournament that is expected to feature Malta, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Turkey.
Photo Credit: Louise Burbidge
ATTARD TO COACH MALTA
The Malta Rugby League (MRL) has announced former professional player Roderick Attard as its Head Coach for the European Championship D tournament later this autumn.
Kalkara born and raised Attard played locally for a host of rugby league clubs before and after a professional stint in England with Championship 1 club Gateshead Thunder in 2010.
Since an ad hoc retirement in 2019, Attard has focused on his Functional Fitness gym at Ħamrun, The Pit, and brings a wealth of experience to the Malta fold. The Pit also fielded a team in the MRL Championship for a couple of seasons.
Attard commented at the announcement that he plans to surround himself with a solid management and coaching staff ahead of scouting local players and the best eligible players from overseas leagues such as the European Super League.
Attard added, "It's a great honour for me to be offered this position within the MRL. I want to share everything I've learnt throughout the years. There’s great talent in our local players and the overseas players that are eligible to join our national team are doing extremely well. I'm looking forward to blending them together to produce a super powerful team".
Attard added that we could see the fittest Maltese rugby team in some time, "Fitness, simplicity, efficiency and teamwork are going to be our key factors. I'm a team player myself and I cannot imagine going through this journey without the people I intend to invite to join me in managing this team".
"One thing that I can surely commit myself to say to the players that are asked to join the team is that apart from the honour of representing Malta, they can be assured that through the build up they are going to be the fittest version of themselves both mentally and physically. It's going to be an exciting Rugby and Fitness journey".
The national team head coaching appointment isn’t the first for the 36-year-old, Roderick coached the Malta Olympic Rowing team in 2015 to its first ever Olympic Rowing medal in Piediluco, Italy.
A veteran of both the Maltese rugby circuit and especially the Maltese national rugby league team, Attard returns to the rugby league scene after coaching and assisting Malta’s national champions at the 2019 Crossfit Games.
MRL General Manager David Axisa said Attard’s pride in the appointment was a large basis for the appointment which the MRL expects to drive the national team towards winning this year’s Euro D group.
"Rod instilled an enormous sense of pride in the Knights jumper as a player, and will create an equally strong set of values into the national team fabric as head coach. I want to thank him, not simply for accepting the position but for genuinely wanting it".
"Our goal is obviously to top the European Championship D this time around and progress further into the qualifiers. In Roderick Attard, we have the person we believe can make that happen".
Photo Credit: Julian Moore
PRO IT EXTENDS MALTA PARTNERSHIP
Malta Rugby League is delighted to confirm that PRO IT has extended its partnership with the governing body for a further two test matches in 2020.
The extension will see the PRO IT logo feature on both the Knights and Dames playing jerseys when they each face Lebanon at Belmore Oval on the NRL International Weekend in June.
Malta Rugby League General Manager, David Axisa who confirmed the extension as Malta’s women’s squad made their Rugby League 9’s debut a fortnight ago, saying the organisation was thrilled to continue its close relationship with PRO IT.
“With this continuation, the partnership will enter its second season and we wish to express our sincere gratitude for the loyal support shown by the PRO IT team,” he said.
“We look forward to working closely and achieving great things together.”
Bekir Kilic, CEO of PRO IT (pictured), said his business was similarly delighted to extend the partnership, and there is an immense sense of excitement and pride being involved with the games in light of the diverse inclusion of women joining the league.
“Our relationship with Malta has been built upon shared values based on teamwork, innovation, high quality performances and of course, a focus on our communities. We appreciate the ever-growing game, its diversity, its opportunities for all genders to show what they’ve got on the field.”
“We are proud to continue supporting a professional outfit such as Malta Rugby League into their first test matches for 2020 and their historical women’s test match at Belmore.”
*PRO IT were jersey sponsors for Malta's Men’s 2019 victories over Italy and Turkey, as well as their Junior Knights Heritage Pathways Program (U16's).
LATE WALES FLURRY BEATS OFF MALTA
Wales Dragonhearts overcame the Malta XIII in a tough match at the Brewery Field in Bridgend, Wales on Saturday afternoon 23rd November 2019 , scoring two late tries to win 34-18.
It was the final game of the Autumn Series for the Dragonhearts, and despite the influence of Malta’s Super League star Jarrod Sammut and the Cassel brothers from Australia’s NSW Cup, the match was evenly balanced until the home side pulled away in the final five minutes.
The Maltese XIII boasted nine players from Malta and Gozo, but naturally it was the Maltese players with experience from the Australian and English leagues that made the biggest impact.
On a slow track, St Julian's based skipper Mark Camilleri opened the scoring for the visitors when he cruised in to put the ball down in the opening 10 minutes of play, Sammut adding the extras.
The Welsh replied through Adam Dayton, and it would carry on that way with the Welsh taking a 16-12 lead despite a Jarrod four pointer from dummy half with 16 left in the opening stanza.
Malta came out of the blocks firing after the break, Tyler Cassel crossing after only two minutes and Sammut converting.
Malta could count themselves hard done by as referee James Jones pulled back a possible double for Camilleri for a forward pass from Aidan Demicoli on the day of his 18th birthday.
As tempers threatened to flare, Jones dismissed both Wales' Tom Matthews and Malta's 17-year-old debutant Alfie Jewitt from Featherstone with 20 to go, the penalty against Malta when they were deep on the Welsh line - turning the tide in favour of the home team.
But the Welsh would still play to their advantage and prevent the Maltese from getting any flow despite the match staying in the balance until the last five minutes.
Jarad Hinnem blew the margin out by another try and after Malta's Tyler Cassel would be removed from the pitch in the dying minutes, lock Mike Hurley would score a try for a personal tally of 18 points that would complete a six tries to three victory for the Welsh.
A 10-point haul from Sammut aside, the Cassel brothers were strong as expected, but young guns Alfie Jewitt, Karl Cassar and dual international Kaine Dimech shone under literally grey skies for the Maltese.
Welsh captain Liam Watton praised the Maltese at full-time for a war-like performance that was tough throughout the 80 minutes.
Malta coach Sam Blyton-Keep was proud of his troops despite the loss, commending the effort the squad made to come together from Malta, England and Australia - with limited training together, yet still taking it to the Welsh.
Wales Dragonhearts 34 (M.Hurley 2, S.Pridgeon, A.Watton, J.Hinnem, G.Harrington tries, M.Hurley 5 from 6 goals) defeated
Malta XIII 18 (M.Camilleri, J.Sammut, T.Cassel tries, J.Sammut 3 from 3 goals)
At Morganstone Brewery Field, Bridgend, Wales.
Ref: J.Jones (Wales)
H-T: Wales 16-12
Player of the Match: Ben Stelmaszek (Wales, No. 10)
MALTA CLAIM MEDITERRANEAN SILVERWARE AND CONSULATE SUPPORT
MALTA officials believe winning the crown over higher ranked Italy will have far-reaching impacts well beyond the silverware.
The Knights have finally claimed bragging rights with a 23-20 win over neighbours Italy in the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) Test Match over the weekend, avenging a 34 - 10 loss back in 2009 when these two teams first met, and a 24 all draw at the last encounter in 2017.
The victory in Sydney is already attracting plenty of attention in the media back in the island nation.
Malta’s Consular General Lawrence Buhagiar was in attendance, as was Australian Maltese Chamber of Commerce (AMCC) National President, Chev Sydney JP Borg.
Both Lawrence and Syd are keen to help the team and are already discussing some things they feel will be beneficial.” MRL General Manager David Axisa revealed.
“There's certainly a willingness from the Maltese business community in Australia to assist us, so hopefully we can sit down and have a chat soon about what that could mean for the future.” Axisa added.
In an often physical encounter, Malta led 4-0 after just two minutes as Wigan Warriors star Jarrod Sammut, a key inclusion, stole an intercept in the first set of the game with the ball eventually spread left, for Nathan Benson to score in the corner.
Sammut missed the conversion, but was the next to score, converting his own try.
In a contentious call, Malta centre Emmanuel Sultana was denied a first half four-pointer after the officials deemed him to go over the sideline.
The Maltese conceded a late penalty and Italy’s Brock Pelligra kicked the two points for a 10-2 halftime score line.
Azzurri coach Leo Epifania’s speech at the interval must have been one for the ages as Italy come out of the sheds a completely different team in the second stanza, running in 2 early tries through Brock Pelligra, and Daniel Petralia with Pelligra converting.
Malta also scored two second-half tries, the first to Nathan Falzon off a lovely Nathan Benson flick pass for the replacement to sail to over line touching down in the corner.
Sammut added the extra 2 points. The Malta halfback also slotted a field goal the next time the red and whites found themselves in range.
The next try from Malta was a nice effort from Man of the Match Jarrod Sammut to dribble the ball into the in goal for his number 9, Adam Campbell to dive on and claim the eventual match winner.
Again, it was Sammut to seal the day with another conversion.
Italy hit back with a consolation try through Anton Laria on the fulltime hooter with Brock Pelligra converting, adding to his flawless day with the boot.
But it wasn't enough, with Malta (ranked 17th) ultimately running out 23-20 victors over Italy (Ranked 14th ).
“Our defence was brilliant in the first half, but we did ourselves no favours with the amount of ball we turned over ” McDonald said.
“We had them on the ropes for most of the game, We took some chances, but I thought we bombed a few as well” he added.
Fixture: Rugby League International Federation Test Match
Venue: Kirkham Oval
Date: Saturday 12th October
Kick Off: 2.35pm
Result: Malta 23 defeated Italy 20
Tries: Nathan Benson, Jarrod Sammut, Nathan Falzon, Adam Campbell.
Goals: Jarrod Sammut (3/4)
Field Goal: Jarrod Sammut
Tries: Brock Pelligra, Daniel Petralia, Anton Laria
Goals: Brock Pelligra (4/4)
Man of the Match: Jarrod Sammut
Photo Credit: John Bonanno
MALTA KNIGHTS KICK OFF NEW PARTNERSHIP WITH GIORDANO INTERNATIONAL LIMITED
1 March 2019
The Rugby League International Federation RLIF Emerging Nations World Champions enter an exciting period following today's historic announcement.
A new two-year sponsorship will see Giordano International Limited (Giordano) become valued partners of the Malta Rugby League (MRL), with the company's logo moving to the prominent front of jersey position.
The Hong Kong-based company is an international retailer of men’s, women’s and children’s apparel and accessories.
"This is a milestone moment for our organisation,” Knights General Manager David Axisa said.
"As we embark on our 15th year in International Rugby League, to have a sponsor with such an impressive global footprint is terrific news for our future success”
Established in 1981, Giordano now employs over 8,000 staff with over 2,400 shops operating in more than 30 countries and regions worldwide.
"I'm sure the players and supporters will be extremely proud to have the well-known business as our number one sponsor for the next two seasons." Axisa added.
Giordano Group Executive Director Mark Loynd said the publicly-listed company was proud to extend its partnership portfolio commitment to the Knights in its 15th anniversary season.
"An important element in our overall brand strategy is “World Without Strangers”. The Malta Knights sponsorship provides Giordano with exceptional brand exposure across the emerging rugby league heartlands and is all the more relevant as we begin to roll-out our longstanding business expansion plan in Malta" Mr. Loynd said.
According to Mr. Loynd brand sponsorships such as the new agreement with the Knights have played an integral role in the ongoing customer growth and expansion of Giordano around the world.
“We have strived to maintain above industry growth in a very competitive industry. Much of this growth has been in new markets with brand exposure playing an integral role in this success. We are excited that our new front of jersey sponsorship of the Knights will play a significant role in reaching out and telling our story to a new group of customers," he added.
THE KNIGHTS AND THEIR SUPPORTERS TO BENEFIT FROM SPONSORSHIP
As part of the partnership, the Malta national team will proudly wear co-branded casual attire of Cotton Summer Tee’s and Oxford Business Shirts, designed and manufactured by Giordano in conjunction with Malta Rugby League.
"We know how proud and passionate the Malta national team players are and we are confident that our bespoke collection of stylish, premium quality cotton tees and oxford business shirts will help convey their sense of pride and identity.”
Mr. Loynd also revealed that as GIORDANO develops its retail business in Malta, customers and Knights supporters will stand to benefit from the new partnership, with details of the promotion and benefits to be announced in due course.
Image: Gozitan International Joseph Pio Mizzi in the nation’s capital Valletta
Photo Credit: Yanika Spiteri
MALTA REACHES ITS HIGHEST WORLD RANKING
On the back of 8 fully sanctioned international matches played in 2018, which represents a record, Malta have leaped to 16th in the World Rankings.
General Manager David Axisa commented: “This is great recognition to round off what has been a very successful year for our national team. We saw many new faces come through into the senior squad, a large number of them from Malta itself, some from professional competitions abroad and a few graduates from our Junior Knights programme operating in Australia which is led by Peter Cassar”
“Taking the title of Emerging Nations World Champions was obviously our biggest accomplishment, but to justify our position moving forward, more needs to be done in terms of local participation and government support back at home in Malta” Axisa added.
Rankings can be found here > http://rlif.com
MALTA WIN 2018 EMERGING NATIONS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
By Anthony Micallef
A spirited Malta out-muscled the South Pacific island nation of Niue 24 to 16 in Sydney yesterday to
claim the reinstalled Emerging Nations World Championship at St Marys Leagues Stadium.
Both teams kicked off the tournament finale with solid sets, but it was the Niueans who would open the
scoring after only five minutes of play when winger Justice Utatao grounded a perfect kick from Zeb
Luisi for the opening points, before former Tongan dual-code rugby international Eddy Paea made no
mistake in adding the extras for an early 6-0 lead.
While Niue beat Malta in the group stages of the tournament, it was the Mediterranean island nation that
sprung a late inclusion into the squad, London Broncos halfback and former NRL star Jarrod Sammut.
Sammut, having just flown into Australia from helping the Broncos to a 4-2 promotion-to-Super League
victory last weekend in Canada, wasted no time and sliced through the Niue defence to level the scores
with a converted try inside 15 minutes.
The Malta Knights side fielded an entirely Australian-based side in this tournament which included a 36-
10 win over the Philippines and a 20-10 defeat of Hungary, but the squad was was filled with Malta regulars that have played in the Knights; European internationals in recent summer internationals.
Jake Attard and Aaron Grech who each played in Malta's June loss to Ukraine at Marsa, Kyal Greene who equaled the record for the number of national team caps (13), Blake Phillips and veteran pro player Jarrod Sammut - all familiar faces to the domestic rugby league fraternity who's local championship has admittedly struggled in recent seasons since the standing down of former Malta based head coach Anthony Micallef.
But the ENWC final was a show of class from the Maltese, skipper Jake Attard was influential throughout the final before being given his marching orders in the last minute of play along with the famous Lolo brothers for Niue, Wes and George. The Malta halves pairing of Jonathan Dallas and Jarrod Sammut was
equally valuable, not least for setting up Nathan Benson for his second four-pointer that would give the
Maltese an 8-point buffer just after half time.
The Cassel brothers Tyler and Kyle have been a revelation for the Malta side in this tournament, and it was younger brother Kyle's offload in the 25th minute that would lead to Benson's first try.
In front of an animated crowd at the suburban Sydney stadium, Niue's dynamic pivot Eddy Paea was sin-
binned just seven minutes before half time. Paea returned in the second half and would set up Utatao for
his double to keep Niue within reach of the Maltese.
In a bruising affair that produced an array of big hits along with some injury scares, Malta then went back
to back with Jonathan Dallas and then Attard giving Malta the upper hand before a frantic final 10
minutes where Malta would hold out the Niueans for a 24-16 victory.
In official comments overnight, MRL General Manager David Axisa labelled the Malta squad
professional and the greatest ever, skipper Jake Attard equally commending.
Axisa said, "The people we have around this team made us the world champions we are today. The professional standards we set ourselves and the bond we have built, nobody can take that away".
Captain Jake Attard added, I'm so proud of the boys and everyone involved in the MRL. It's certainly a career highlight and something I'll cherish forever".
The World Championship victory is the greatest honour for the Malta Knights national team, ranked 18-
in-the-world, since their 2010 European Bowl victory over Norway at Hamrun.
The Emerging Nations World Championship was introduced for second and third tier rugby league
nations that haven't featured in a World Cup before. Featuring teams representing Europe, Asia, Africa
and South America, the tournament has already received accolades from senior rugby league officials with supporters hopeful of a follow-up tournament in four years time.
Malta 24 (Nathan Benson 2, Jarrod Sammut, Jonathon Dallas, Jake Attard tries, Jarrod Sammut 2 goals)
Niue 16 (Justice Utatao, Christian Ulukita, George Lolo tries, Eddy Paea 2 goals)
At St Marys Stadium, Australia.
Malta: Justin Rodrigues, Nathan Benson, Emanuel Sultana, Kyle Cassel, Jake Scott, Jonathon Dallas,
Jarrod Sammut, Dean Zammit, Jake Attard (c), Kyal Greene, Tyler Cassel, Ben Stone, Blake Phillips,
Interchange; Adam Campbell, Josh Martin, Aaron Grech, Peter Cronin
MALTA RISE IN WORLD RANKINGS
After a 24-all draw with Italy and a convincing 48-16 victory over Hungary this month, Malta have been ranked 17th by the World Governing Body, Rugby League International Federation (RLIF).
This is the highest world ranking that Malta have achieved after 13 years playing the game.
On learning of the announcement through the week, Malta hooker and captain Jake Attard commented “It doesn’t stop here. We have a team who are capable of improving that ranking even further with more games in 2018”
PHOENICIAN CUP MATCH REPORT
By Sean Teuma Date: 7/5/17, Photo Credit (Sean Teuma)
Lebanon have begun their World Cup preparations with a 24-4 win over Malta in the Phoenician Cup at New Era Stadium last night.
The Cedars took advantage of a poor defensive start from the Maltese, scoring two tries in the opening eight minutes to hold a commanding 12-point lead.
From that point on, the game was very much an arm-wrestle, as Malta worked their way back into the game, matching everything that the strong Lebanese side was throwing at them.
Five-eighth Abbas Miski played a starring role for the Cedars, finishing with a hat-trick and a try assist for good measure. He also converted all four of his teams tries to finish with a personal tally of 20 points.
Captain Ray Moujalli showed why his experience and tenacity will be valued in the World Cup at the end of the year, leading his team from the front with a number of charging hit-ups that got his team onto the front foot.
Maltese skipper Jake Attard did his best to inspire his team, making a number of crucial tackles, using his pace out of dummy half, as well as providing a well-timed kicking game.
First points were scored in the opening three minutes after a line break to Abraham El-Zakhem allowed a supporting Abbas Miski to gather possession and carry three defenders over the line, giving the Cedars a dream start.
North Sydney’s Miski brought up a double just minutes later after he sliced through a stagnant defensive line to push the lead out to 12.
Malta managed to stem the flow of points in the next few sets, and was able to get some field position of their own, before their good work was brought unstuck.
They conceded an unnecessary penalty in the ruck, and from the subsequent set of six, Miski had his hat-trick after selling a dummy to the defence, giving him all 18 points after as many minutes played.
A mistake from the kick-off by the Cedars helped to give Malta a set of six in their half, and proved to be the opportunity they needed, as halfback Luke Cauchi caught the defence napping and scored from dummy half, cutting the deficit back to 14 at half-time.
After a conservative start to the second half, Lebanon was able to extend the lead after 13 minutes, as they earned repeat sets on the Maltese line, and a strong backline movement saw Danny Barakat finish, giving the Lebanese an unassailable 20-point buffer.
That would go down as the last score of the game, as the Phoenician sides continued to batter each other in defence with ruthless tackles and an unrelenting attitude.
Lebanon will play their opening World Cup match against France on 29 October, a game that will likely determine who will progress to the quarter finals of the competition.
Malta will head over to Thailand at the end of the season to compete against the upcoming Asian nation, with an eye on the Emerging Nations World Championship at the start of 2018.
TEAM LIST SHAKE UP FOR INJURY-HIT KNIGHTS
Published · 6 May at 08:39
The Knights have suffered a blow in their preparation for tonights Phoenician Test against the Lebanon Cedars in Cabramatta with Joshua Martin (Shoulder) and Timothy Good, (Hamstring) being ruled out and Nathan Simpson also in doubt as Malta’s Dr Mallia gives the Picton Front Rower up until kick off to prove his fitness.
The Knights opposed a local Merrylands Rams side in an open session last night where coach Peter Cassar used the squad in variety of positions.
But the major concern could be the subsequent injury toll.
MRL Spokesperson, David Axisa said at this morning’s breakfast “Josh copped a knock in an U20’s game a few weeks back and is still not 100%. Unfortunately Tim went down with a serious hamstring injury in last nights captains run. The boys are gutted for him as his debut was shaping up to be pretty special”
Malta have called up last minute replacements and the final team list will be published before kick-off.
CAMP MALTA - LATE WITHDRAWAL
Published · 4 February
Late Malta call-up Joel Bradford is ready to lock horns with Philippines veteran and former Gold Coast Titans Steve Tolo in the 2017 International Rugby League season-opener at New Era Stadium.
Knights coach Peter Cassar confirmed this morning the St George-Illawarra Dragons junior rep who trained with the squad as 18th man last night will slot straight into the fullback role after Thomas Vella ruled himself out.
"It's a setback, but we're lucky we've got a guy like Joel who was with us in last weekend’s 9's tournament," Cassar said in Sydney early this morning.
"He's also been training the house down with us at Hills Bulls for the pre-season, he's an experienced player ... he'll handle it well."
Bradford said he was looking forward to his International debut.
"I always enjoy these challenges. Now I get my chance, it's about making the most of it," the 19 year old said.
Vella called the decision to withdraw one of the most difficult calls of his career. "I’ve got a trial for the Ron Massey competition. It's very disappointing but I had to do what was best for my season," he said.
Knights Manager David Axisa said Bradford's call-up made the team more complete.
"The importance of coming up against an established team like the Philippines, no doubt you've got to be a fantastic player, but you've also got to be in the right head-space," Axisa said at this morning's breakfast.
"And the fact Joel has spent time in camp, and showed us how tough he can be at last weekend's 9's he'll slide straight in. If anything, it makes the side look a little bit more complete."
MALTA TAKE THRILLER IN HEADINGLEY CARNEGIE INTERNATIONAL – MALTA 35 BELGIUM 34
Report by Phil Caplan (RLEF Media Department) 21 June, 2015
Headingley Carnegie Stadium, Leeds
International rugby league for two novice nations at the home of where the first international was played in 1908 produced a stunning game, Danny Burke’s drop goal five minutes from time giving Malta a one point win.
Belgium, ranked 10th in the European rankings, against a side five places below them, scored seven tries to six, Yann Leroyer with a hat trick; goal kicks ultimately costing them.
Post-anthems, Belgium made the perfect start although there was an element of fortune about the score.
Livewire scrum half Kamel Belkiri put up a towering high ball to the posts, Malta full back Paul Parkinson spilled it but seemed to be pushed and Leroyer dotted down between the posts and converted.
On the back of a penalty, Malta equalised, James Redman – who was quality throughout – scooting over from dummy half for a fine solo try, Blyton-Keep levelling.
Karnik Avedikian, who ran some great angles, lost the ball after a good break and Malta capitalised, Redman and Blake Phillips carving out the chance for Malcolm Attard to go over on a diagonal run, Blyton-Keep goaling from out wide.
Malta put the ball out on the full and gave away a penalty, Belkiri sending Agim Coroli close and then Nicholas Bourgin over, Leroyer’s conversion hitting the post.
Belkiri kicked a 40-20 and Belgium took the lead on the back of it, Leroyer and Belkiri sending Avedikian over out wide, again Leroyer’s goal attempt hitting the upright.
Two tries in as many gave Malta the ascendancy going into the break, Attard with the run that set the position for prop Jake Lynch to power to the posts and Phillips with a fine 30 metres dash to the corner, Blyton-Keep missing his first shot at goal.
Just before the break, Belkiri jinked over but lost the ball in trying to put it down, which ultimately proved costly.
Malta looked like they had sewn up the spoils eight minutes into the second half when they established a 20-point lead, Attard capitalised on a knock on to step to the posts for his second score and, after he had been held up, Blyton-Keep twisted over.
With his fifth goal, Malta had a seemingly unassailable 20-point lead but the next 20 minutes belonged to Belgium as they drew level thanks to the superb intervention of Lyon centre Yann Bertand.
Damien Parée’s break saw Leroyer, Belkiri and Jonathon Bouillon send in winger Iliass Laachiri with a fine somersault but he missed the goal.
Bertrand’s superb break down the middle and brilliantly timed pass put Leroyer in at the posts and Laachiri goaled to narrow the gap to six points.
Leroyer’s hat trick try saw the game level, the stand off snaffling a ball from the base of a Malta scrum and romping 7-0 metres for a terrific score.
But it was not enough, Bertand had the ball forced in a terrific tackle from Attard and Burke did the rest.
Both sides were cheered from the field after a sensational contest.
Tries: Redman (5), Attard (12, 43), Lynch (28), Phillips (30), Blyton-Keep (49)
Goals: Blyton-Keep 5/6
Drop goal: Burke
Paul Parkinson, Jean-Pierre Zarb, Christian Briffa, Ed Willis, Julian Caruana, Malcolm Attard (C), Danny Burke, Jake Lynch, James Redman, Jeremy Dela, Blake Phillips, Sam Blyton-Keep, Justin Barlogio, Peter Debono, Joseph Pio Mizzi, Karl Cassar, Louis Singleton
Tries: Leroyer (2, 57, 70), Bourgin (17), Avedikian (20), Laachiri (54), Bertrand (64)
Goals: Leroyer 1/3, Laachiri 2/4
Simon Troquereaux, Lelio Guilmard, Yann Bertrand, Damien ParÃ©e, Iliass Laachiri, Yvan Leroyer, Kamel Belkiri, Agim Coroli, Christopher Eyns, Josquin De Winne (C), Karnik Avedikian, Adam Bahemou, Nicolas Bourgin, Colin Niez, Guillaume Van Der Elst, Jonathan Bouillon, Quentin Leclercq
Rugby Leaguer & League Express Men of the match:
MALTA – Blake Phillips BELGIUM – Kamel Belkiri
Penalty count: 5-6
Half time: 22-14
Referee: Brandon Robinson