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Match Report: Cyprus v Malta

Updated: May 8

Cyprus 14 - 24 Malta

Saturday 4 May 2024

Tsirio Stadium, Limassol, Cyprus

Rugby Europe Rugby XV Conference 2023-2024 Pool D

The Cyprus and Malta squads walking onto the pitch
Photo by Stephen Nicolaou Photography

Cyprus v Malta always provides an exciting game of rugby and Saturday's match was no different. A few early penalties from Malta allowed the Mighty Mouflons to start the game off strong and set up camp in the Maltese half for the first 20 minutes of the game. Cyprus elected to kick for the corner in the early stages and attempted to use their big forward pack to power over the line, however the Maltese defence stayed firm and repelled each wave of Cypriot attack. Cyprus had the lion's share of the possession and territory in the opening quarter of the match but inaccuracies at the lineout and poor attacking decisions saw the Mouflons come away with nothing to show for their dominance.

Malta's early defensive effort paid off after winning consecutive penalties and they were able to relieve the pressure and gain a foothold in the match. Both sides seemed to elect a similar attacking philosophy of kicking to the corner and letting the big men upfront use their brawn to maul the ball over the line.

Cyprus players tackling a Malta player
Photo by Stephen Nicolaou Photography

Malta Gets the Scoreboard Rolling

The first score of the game came in the 18th minute against the run of play when Malta's number 8, Joseph Greaves crashed over the line from close range to dot down to the right of the posts, allowing for an easy conversion for the Maltese place kicker Christopher Dudman.

The physicality of the game was immense with both sides delivering some massive tackles, much to the crowd's enjoyment. Cyprus spent the remainder of the first half on the back foot defending against the rapid Malta backline. Malta seemed to find success down the outside channels but were let down by the final pass.

Cyprus looked to put their first points on the board in the 32nd minute after a dazzling run by winger Hadee Fayaz as he danced his way through the Maltese defence only to be held up over the line.

Both Sides Pay a Visit to the Sin Bin

Shortly after, Malta went down to 14 men when their outside centre Gatt received a yellow card for a high tackle on a Cypriot player. Cyprus used their man advantage wisely, working the ball down the blindside. After a scrappy lineout, hooker Pantelis Stylianou showed his power and ran over the Malta scrum half before delivering a beautiful pop pass to the Cypriot speedster Kai Phillips who scored under the posts, bringing the score level at 7-7 going in at the half.

Malta returned to the full complement of 15 players shortly after the second half began with Josh Gatt returning from the sin bin. Cyprus then lost their captain Billy Cosma to a yellow card. The Mouflons defended their line with their lives, putting in a huge defensive effort despite being a man short. The relentless Malta attack wore the Mouflons down and they scored off the back of a beautifully executed lineout maul, putting the visitors ahead 14-7.

Cyprus winning the ball at the lineout
Photo by Stephen Nicolaou Photography

Malta’s bench seemed to be the difference between the two sides with substitute Owen Vassallo setting up the third Malta try. Vassallo took the ball from the base of the scrum and broke several tackles before popping the ball back inside to Thomas Holloway to finish off the run. 21-7 to Malta.

Cyprus’ struggles at the set piece continued into the second half, making it difficult for the Mouflons to capitalise on the Maltese infringements. A late try for Cyprus by Demetrios Sofocleous during the last play of the game resulted in the match ending 24-14 in Malta's favour.

Written by Barry Bruce

Cyprus squad photo
Devon van der Merwe (far left) and Tomas Buckland (second from left) made their debuts for Cyprus

Photos by Stephen Nicolaou Photography

Thank you to Alfa Sports TV / Unitrust Media for providing the live match coverage. Click here to watch the highlights.


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