Birkirkara off the mark
Overseas 17 Birkirkara 31
On a wet and blustery day at Marsa, both teams started tentatively, and the game meandered around the centre of the pitch with no team gaining the upper hand.
Overseas were the first to break through when Birkirkara threw a loose pass to ground and Vince Stivala kicked through on the halfway line, chased and picked up to score. Five minutes later, Birkirkara took the lead with a bizarre try.
Overseas gave away a penalty on their 22 metre line. The ball found its way behind the try line, and Overseas tried to kick the ball away to touch, but the wind blew it back behind the line, and Roderick Borg gratefully gathered to score. The try was converted to give Birkirkara a 2-point lead.
Half way into the first half, a jinking run by Mick George through the middle set up Stivala to ghost through for his second try, and put Overseas ahead 12-7. Birkirkara were using the wind to their advantage, kicking over the Overseas defence to pressurise them into giving penalties away, and Chris Cachia was eventually sin-binned for handling on the floor. With Overseas down to 14 men, they gave away a series of penalties near their 5 metre line, before Jeremy Vella picked up a loose ball and barrelled over to score. The first half ended 12-10 to Birkirkara.
They soon extended their lead in the second half when, after 10 minutes, the backs worked an overlap on the left and Daniel Gauchi used the space to touch down on the wing. Overseas got one back with the best try of the game, when they worked the ball first to the right and then switched direction. Borg picked out Stivala, who jinked through three players to score. Peek converted to bring the scores level at 17 all.
The Birkirkara forwards then started to dominate and, with Overseas failing to use the wind to any effect, pinned the opposition back in their half. With their attack line camped on the 5 metre line, a penalty led to a quick tap penalty, and Chris Briffa carried over to score. He converted his own try to take the lead 24-17. Overseas could not break out of their half, and desperate defending saw them hold the ball up three times over their line. However, sustained pressure from Birkirkara , switching play left and right, led to Matt Camilleri finding oceans of space which he duly exploited. Overseas launched one final attack, but the move broke down, and the final whistle saw Birkirkara take the victory 31-17.
Man of the match - Vince Stivala