Experienced half back Jarrod Sammut led the way with 30 points from three tries and nine goals, as Malta defeated Montenegro 66-6 at Mosta FC’s Charles Abela Stadium.
It was the visitors first foray into the international arena but the more experienced hosts gave them an introduction as warm as the weather, the match – despite kicking off at 7pm local time – taking place in 26 degrees Celsius.
Malta ran in 12 tries, centre Zarrin Galea also claiming a treble with his first in the opening minute as his side got off to the perfect start. They were 18 points up inside 14 minutes, Josh Gatt and Sammut crossing, Montenegro claiming their first points five minutes before the break when Red Star loose forward Balsa Zarkovic made history, Srdjan Popovic goaling to take the score to 34-6 at the break.
Jean-Pierre Zarb, Malta Rugby League president who played at prop, commented: “It was a good performance, we had some quality players on the field and the result was a little harsh on Montenegro considering it was their first game, they had a lot of heart. We played for the full 80 minutes and hopefully we can now plan for another match on home soil.”
Thanks for the show @maltaRL & @Jarrod_Sammut and special thanks to @ZarrinGalea for being extra nice to the kids by giving them a signed pair of his shoes. You should check if that was the fastest international try mate 🏉🇲🇹💪❤️ pic.twitter.com/G2ljcZ6Qrh
— Joshua Aquilina (@siamesedream83) May 14, 2022
Sammut, his star performer, added: “It’s great for the international game, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes to make this happen and the Maltese community really got behind us. For me personally it’s not about the individual points haul but more a great effort by the team to come away with a home win which we’ve been desperate for over the last ten years and I want to thank everyone involved for making the day so special.” The 35-year-old continued: “The body’s holding up really well, I’ve got some years left in me, feeling great and still loving the game. It would be a step back if I didn’t pass on my knowledge and experience, that’s why I love playing for Malta.”
Medway Dragons’ second rower Kaine Dimech grabbed a try in each half for the hosts as they kept up their dominance in the second period.
Montenegro head coach Ian Giddings said: “I’m immensely proud. We were up against a fantastic side and it’s a big learning experience for these guys. The tears in the dressing room shows their passion and pride for their country and they put in an amazing performance against some astonishingly good players. It is nothing but a positive for Montenegro and Balkan rugby league – certainly something to build upon.”
Andrew Muscat, Cameron Gatt, Zarrin Galea, Josh Gatt, James Grech, Karl Cassar (c), Jarrod Sammut, Dean Zammit, Robin Cutajar, Jean Pierre Zarb, Kane Dimech, Chris Mercieca, Joe Briggs. Subs (all used): Kyle Gauchi, Mark Camilleri, Nicholas Vella, Nathan Gatt
Tries: Galea (1, 54, 61), J. Gatt (4), Sammut (14, 44, 75), Muscat (26), Zammit (32), Dimech (38, 57), Camilleri (64)
Goals: Sammut 9/12
Goran Vujovic, Boban Banjevic, Bogdan Raicevic, Burim Brahimi, Ilija Ivanovic, Srdjan Popovic, Mitar Boskovic, Danilo Kosanovic, Atanas Trimcheski, Nikola Vasic, Elvis Cemaj, Igor Adzaip, Balsa Zarkovic. Subs (all used); Vladan Celebic, Jovan Petrovic, Redzep Baljaj, Janko Milovic
Try: Zarkovic (35)
Half time: 34-6
Referee: Jaroslav Bzoch (Czech Republic)