The Malta rugby national team were back to winning ways in the FIRA-AER Conference 1 South when they eased past Cyprus at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.
Playing in tricky windy conditions, the Maltese struggled to get going in the opening stages as they struggled to break down a solid Cypriot defence.
But when they found themselves 3-0 down, after a Cyprus penalty, the home side suddenly clicked into gear and managed to score three tries without reply through Jethro Zammit Randich (2) and Tom Holloway to take complete command of the match.
Cyprus tried to hit back after the break but the Maltese held firm to wrap up their commitments in style as they ensured they finished second in the group, behind Croatia.
Malta pressed on the accelerator right from the outset as they put huge pressure on the Cypriot defence who resorted to all means to try to keep out the home side.
Chris Dudman had the chance to put the hosts in front from a central penalty kick but fired off target.
Instead it was the Cypriots who drew first blood as in their first foray in the Maltese half on 18 minutes they won a penalty and Alexander Zavallis Roebuck made no mistake to give his country a 3-0 lead.
However, the visitors’ lead lasted only a few minutes as the home side won a penalty some 15 metres out and this time Dudman made no mistake to level the match – 3-3.
Malta continued to push forward and their efforts were finally rewarded with a try when after a flowing move on the right Robert Holloway teed up Jethro Zammit Randich who touched the ball home. Dudman made no mistake from the conversion to stretch Malta’s lead to 10-3.
The home side were on a roll now and a second try quickly ensued when after another flowing move Zammit Randich again found a gap in the Cypriot backline to go beyond the goalline for his second try of the match.
Dudman again converted as Malta raced 17-3 ahead.
That turned out to be Dudman’s last contribution as he pulled out with a foot injury.
But that failed to derail Malta’s momentum as just before half-time the home side grabbed the third try when Rob Holloway raced through the Cypriot defence to touch home and the same player hit home the conversion to give the team a comfortable 24-3 lead.
After the break, the Cypriots tried to get themselves back into the match and after long spells of pressure they finally got their first try when Dominic Georgiou outmuscled his marker to touch the ball home.
Roebuck made no mistake from the conversion to reduce the gap to 24-10.
Malta hit back immediately, and they won a penalty kick at mid-pitch and Tom Holloway kept his composure to direct the ball in between the goalposts to hand Malta a 27-10 win.
Malta: R. Apsee, T. Davey, D. Cerketta, M. Barbara, C. Sultana, D. Deguara, D. Apsee, M. Davey, T. Holloway, R. Holloway-10, L. Matthews, D. Busuttil, C. Dudman-7, B. Dalton, J. Zammit Randich 10.
Cyprus: G. Cosma, M. Zakalotis, F. Fayaz, C. Ianonnou, B. Cosma, D. Gregoriou, M. Mladenovic, G. Agathokleous, C. Paraskava, A. Roebuck 5, P. Poruollis, D. Gergiou 5, B. Yarrow, O. Yarrow, N. Frost.
Referee: Benjamin Loader (Austria).
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