A strong first half performance, which saw them lead 20-0 at the break, enabled Malta’s men to retain the Medieval Shield following a 34-10 win in a senior international over Montenegro in Tivat. There were seven individual try scorers for the Maltese, including one each from brothers Noah and Jayden Azzopardi and Kaine and Reece Dimech.
Malta caretaker head coach, Anthony Micallef, noted: “Not everything we trained for came off, but there were some good performances and encouraging debut displays. We have some things to work on before we face Bulgaria next weekend but Montenegro were spirited and much improved since we played them last year.”
Prop Josh Cassar was impressive for the visitors with some strong runs that brought him a fine try just after the half hour, while 19-year-old centre Kyle Gauci collected eight points with a try and two conversions.
Montenegro rallied in the second half, Burim Brahimi and fullback Marko Novakovic from RLC Arsenal Tivat with their touchdowns, and they gained admiration for their resilience after losing to Malta 66-6 in the corresponding fixture last year.
Their head coach, Ian Giddings, said: “I was delighted with our performance in only our second game, it was a big improvement since the last time we played. It was wonderful to host the Maltese who have been great ambassadors for rugby league. We now have some interest from teams wanting to travel here from the UK and that will help us to keep developing.”
Marko Novakovic, Marko Fatic, Boban Banjevic, Burim Brahimi, Milos Dasic, Srdjan Popovic, Milos Kucancanin, Igor Adzaip, Ilija Ivanovic, Redzep Baljaj, Elvis Cenaj, Goran Novakovic, Bogdan Raicevic. Interchanges: Bojan Mizdalo, Andrija Dakic, Stevan Radonjic, Aleksandar Mecikucic
Tries: Brahimi (60), Novakovic (74)
Goal: Srdjan Popovic 1/2
Mark Camilleri, Jean Scholey, Kyle Gauci, Reece Dimech, Aiden Demicoli, Jayden Azzopardi, Karl Cassar, Jean-Pierre Zarb, Robin Cutajar, Josh Cassar, William Watts, Mark Roberston, Kaine Dimech. Interchanges: Scott Beerman, Luke Musu, Nicky Vella, Noah Azzopardi.
Tries: J. Azzopardi (3), K. Dimech (17), Cassar (33), Gauci (40), N. Azzopardi (47), Camilleri (66), R. Dimech (79)
Goals: Jayden Azzopardi 1/5 , Kyle Gauci 2/2
Sin Bin: Beerman (21) – dangerous contact
Referee: Vladan Kikanovic (Serbia)
Half time: 0-20