Malta moved on the brink of retaining their place in Division 2A when they produced a stunning performance to beat Croatia 37-18 at the Hibs Stadium.

Malta drew first blood after 10 minutes when from a scrum Toby Quarendon released James Kirk on the right and the Malta winger sped over the line for the first try of the match. James O’Brien duly converted to put the hosts 7-0 ahead.

The hosts struck again on 19 minutes. Daniel Apsee burst through the Croatia backline with the ball falling to skipper Dominic Busuttil who whizzed past three opponents to score the hosts’ second try. O’Brien again converted to hand his team a comfortable 14-0 lead.

Croatia were rocked by Malta’s play but gradually they came more into the picture and eight minutes from the break, the Maltese conceded a penalty in their half which was taken quickly by the Croatians with the ball falling to Marco Grcic who sped over the try line.

Nik Jurisic missed the converstion to leave the hosts 14-5 ahead.

The visitors grew in stature and four minutes from the break Jurisic converted a penalty to reduce the gap to 14-8.

Malta started the second half brightly. The excellent Quarendon again retrieved possession and sped through before passing the ball towards O’Brien who immediately released the sprinting Daniel Apsee who grabbed the third try. O’Brien missed the conversion as Malta led 19-8.

The Croatians were trying everything to break the solid Malta rearguard but their hopes of a comeback were all but ended with ten minutes to go when after a protracted move Vince Stivala sidestepped two Croatian players to bypass the tryline. O’Brien scored the conversion to stretch Malta’s lead to 26-8.

Malta were forced to play the closing minutes of the match with a player less when Dominic Busuttil was yellow carded for dissent.

The Croatians duly profited as Tonci Buzov powered his way through for a try. Jurisic missed the try to leave Malta 26-13 ahead.

The Maltese refused to let their opponents game back into the match and two minutes from time O’Brien converted another penalty to add another three important points.

But the win was all but sealed a minute later when the Maltese struck their fifth try in some style. Sam Borg’s deft kick played in Quarendon who found Kirk with a fine pass and the Malta winger grabbed his second try of the match.

Croatia to their credit kept pushing and and they scored another try by Luka Perlain.

But Malta had the final say with O’Brien scoring a last-gasp penalty to seal a 37-18.

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