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 APPOINT COMMERCIAL MANAGER (NORTHERN HEMISPHERE)
Malta Rugby League have moved to strengthen their off field operational team with the appointment of a new Commercial Manager (Northern Hemisphere).
After an exhaustive recruitment campaign, Stuart Hood will officially commence his role with the Emerging Nations World Champions on Monday 4th February and joins the Malta Knights team from Black Swans RLFC who are a Junior Rugby League Club in Worcestershire, UK.
Hood, no stranger to our sport, is the Founder of his club, an Academy Director and an England Rugby League Player Development Coach, boasting the credentials of a Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Rugby League (UKCC).
Commenting on the announcement this morning, MRL General Manager David Axisa said, “Stuart’s selection is key to the further development of our organisation”
“After an extraordinary 2018 with little to no commercial support, it has been one of our top priorities to bring in an experienced campaigner to take us to the next level, and I’m delighted Stuart has agreed to join us.” Axisa added.
Stuart will be contacting potential partners and sponsors to introduce himself over the course of the next few months and can be contacted at email@example.com
In other news, MRL expect to announce Stuart’s Southern Hemisphere counterpart shortly.
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