Marauders Eclipse Legends in Thrilling PPO Final
Malta Marauders were playing in the International Veterans 10s competition at the Dubai 7s for the first time.
Two of the teams in the Pool stages included such prestigious players as Percy Montgomery, Jason Robinson, Henry Paul and Chris Sheasby.
Marauders managed to avoid the favourites in the draw, but finished fourth in their pool, and so progressed to the semi-final of the Provisional play–off on the second day.
Here they met the Cairo Old Crocs, and upped their game significantly to win the match 24 – 0, with captain Joss Howland bagging a spectacular hat-trick, and Jim Hunter also scoring a try, before having to leave the pitch injured.
The result took the Marauders into a third-day final against the well-fancied Arabian Gulf Legends, a team of ex-international players from the Gulf States. Marauders went onto the pitch the underdogs, but from the first whistle, shocked the opposition with ferocious tackling and speed.
The Gulf Legends were pinned down in their own half, and after five minutes of play, Marauders’ Olieg Baev broke through the defensive line to score. The Maltese kept up the pressure and, near the end of the first half, scored again when 'Red' Thompson used his speed to pierce the Legends line once again. With one conversion, the half ended 12-0 to Marauders.
The Gulf Legends started strongly in the second half putting the Marauders under severe pressure, but despite their efforts, the Legends scored twice. S the full-time whistle was blown, both teams were tied. The game went into sudden death over-time. Both sides battled ferociously to gain territorial advantage, and after five minutes, Legends number 6 broke through the defense on the half-way line and powered down the right wing. A try looked certain, until Jimmy Walker took him into touch with a magnificent tackle just five metres from the try line.
Marauders won a penalty following the lineout and cleared their lines. They pushed upfield and out of danger. Finally, after seven minutes of extra time, Howland launched Thompson down the left wing to dart over for his second try. After a nail-biting finish, the jubilant Marauders claimed the final by 17 points to 12.
Marauders President Phil Gibbs said that it was a 'dream come true' to take a team from Malta to the Dubai 7s, and to win the PPO final was the icing on the cake.