Sliema Stompers 49
This was a fast and furious Mediterranean Bank Cup semi-final.
In the end, it was the speed of play and a stout Stompers defence that shut down an energetic Falcons team for the Sliema side to book a place in the final and a clash against Swieqi Overseas.
Within three minutes of Richard Gum kicking off into the strong wind, Stompers scored their first try.
A dropped ball that went backwards had Falcons waiting for a knock-on call from the referee. But he waved play on and Chris Betts came into the line to score wide out.
Stompers were dominating in the scrum and from a strike against the head, the ball went down the blind side out to Josef Luke Azzopardi and he slammed down in the corner as he was tackled, making it 10-0 after 10 minutes.
Falcons were trying hard to get into the game with Kawara, Andre Galea and Aaron Borg all running strongly. But the Stompers rearguard shut them down every time.
Falcons got wise and started using the wind kicking into the corners for territory, putting pressure on Stompers near their line. That stance eventually led to a penalty for offside and Holliday kicked it in to get his team on the board – 10-3.
Stompers upped the tempo and went through the phases, going right then left, as holes began to appear in the Falcons defensive line. Gum shimmied his way through and angled his 40-metre run into the corner to score an unconverted try.
Falcons hit back and swept onto a Stompers dropped ball. Cost-Critien passed to Andrew Vella who flipped it back inside to Holliday for a try.
But Stompers stormed their way back. Gum scored a try and so did Maylor to put the score to 25-8 at half-time.
A head clash had Stompers losing Maylor and Calvin Briffa but it didn’t stop them from adding two more tries, with one conversion, through Betts and Gum’s third.
Falcons went into a playing frenzy, trying to get back into the game and throwing everything into the battle.
Their efforts were rewarded with a fine try from Andrew Vella, using his speed to take a pass from the half-way mark, then accelerating away to score near the posts. With a conversion it was 37-13.
But Max Galea then scored two tries near the end of the game and Stompers defended their cushion lead as Cost-Critien was red carded for a head high tackle and back chatting the referee.
Referee: Sean Doublesin.
Men of the match: Chris Betts (Stompers); Andre Galea (Falcons).
Other semi-final: Swieqi Overseas vs Kavallieri 31-24.
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