On a perfect day down at Marsa, Stompers ran out the winners over Overseas in a game that never really fired as a spectacle.
The last time these two teams had met, Stompers won 38-18. But this was a new-look Overseas outfit with a few players back from injury so much more was expected of them.
However, it was Stompers who put the first points on the board, as they repeatedly attacked the Overseas line with quick recycled ball, stretching their opponents’ defence from side to side, with McLister, Camilleri and Richard Gum very much in evidence.
Stompers won a penalty and Gum slotted his shot between the posts to put them 3-0 ahead as Overseas were still trying to get their hands on the ball.
Overseas soon found their attacking game and worked their way close to the Stompers’ tryline for Matt Stoker, who had replaced the injured John Debono, to score to the left of the posts. Christian Briffa did not add the extra points.
The referee was warning both teams for their indiscipline as the players were going off their feet in the tackle area or were guilty of too many high tackles.
Something had to give and so it was when Jamie Murray was yellow-carded for a head-high tackle on Gum as he tried to scamper down the touchline.
But Stompers couldn’t take advantage of the extra man and Overseas led 5-3 at the interval.
There was an expectation that in the second half the game would open up.
Matt Camilleri was running strongly for Stompers, trying to work the ball towards Debattista on the wing as Gum was his usual lively self at full-back.
Overseas were trying to get into the game, but another yellow card, this time to Briffa, slowed down their progress along errors from passes and dropped balls.
Even the players you expected to stand up and take the game by the scruff of the neck, such as Salles and Corner, were uncharacteristically missing tackles although both did have some charging runs upfield.
Gum then put Stompers 6-5 ahead with his second penalty but it was still anybody’s game.
Stoker was yellow carded for a repeated infringement so now Overseas had played 30 minutes with 14 players. There was little passion in their play and anything they tried fizzled out.
But credit must go to Stompers who stuck to their task and worked the ball to their winger Jeremy Debattista. He ran strongly to score a fine try as Gum converted to put his team 13-5 in front.
The last play of the game came as the Stompers forwards ran rampant, producing front football for their backs. Camilleri had a dab at the line then lobbed a basketball pass over to Malcolm Attard who ran it in to score and seal the win.
Men of the match
Matt Camilleri (Stompers) and Chicco Ramirez (Overseas).