It wasn’t the prettiest of matches by any stretch of the imagination but Malta Origin RL did enough to edge out Stompers on Wednesday night and win the first silverware of the rugby league season, the MRL Super Cup.
Last year’s champions met last year’s cup winners in what is quickly becoming a grudge match in the local rugby league championship, with Stompers also the last team to win the MRL Championship before Malta Origin last season.
But it was down to big prop Daniel Groves to prove the difference, the Englishmen crossing for four tries and working hard in defence just as his pack teammates did.
Pete Debono and Branton Bonello deserved special mentions for the eventual 38-34 winners and their opposite number Dragan Cerketa and Malcolm Attard were at their dynamo best.
The two sides simply couldn’t manage the basics of catch, pass and tackle and kept pegging one try a piece at each other.
Inside the opposition’s twenty with 15 minutes left on the clock, Stompers lost their strike player and Malta dual international Malcolm Attard when he went down with an elbow injury and had to leave the field.
Then a brain explosion by the Stompers’ Alessandro Frizzi saw the Italian put on report by the referee for striking an opposition player with his leg.
At 30-all with seven minutes to go, an infringement saw Sam Keep nail the penalty from 35 metres out to give Malta Origin the mental advantage. Another Malta Origin try put the game all but in doubt for Stompers.
A consolation four-pointer for Stompers at the final whistle wasn’t enough and Malta Origin, in their Penrith Panthers donated NRL kit, got their season off to the perfect start, lifting the MRL Super Cup.
2014 MRL Championship – Round 2
Malta Origin RL 38 (D.Groves 4, P.Debono, S.Keep tries; S.Keep 7 from 7 goals) defeated
Stompers RL 34 (M.Spiteri 2, M.Attard, A.Camilleri, D.Cerketa, J.Ellul, A.Frizzi tries; M.Attard 3 from 5, E.Willis 0 from 2 goals)
H-T: Stompers 22-18
Best & Fairest: D.Groves (Malta Origin RL) and M.Attard (Stompers RL)
At Melita FC, Pembroke.
2014 MRL Championship Standings:
Gozo RL, 2pts, 1W, 0L, (+20)
Malta Origin RL, 2pts, 1W, 0L, (+4)
Team Pit RL, 2pts, 0W, 0L, 1B, (+0)
Eagles RL, 0pts*, 0W, 0L, (+0)
Stompers RL, 0pts, 0W, 2L, (-24)
* Denotes one game in hand
4: Daniel Groves (Malta Origin RL)
3: J.P.Zarb (Gozo RL) and J.Caruana (Stompers RL)
Top Point Scorers:
20: D.Frendo (Gozo RL) = 2 tries, 6 goals
18: S.Keep (Malta Origin RL) = 1 tries, 7 goals