Aaron Grech, Kyle Cassel (2), Tyson Muscat, Jake Scott.
Jarrod Sammut 4/5
Atilla Sahin, Aydin Salman-Cochrane.
Ali Bokeyhan Surer 2/2
CENTURIES LATER, HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF | MALTA KNIGHTS VICTORIOUS
A sporting contest dubbed "The Great Siege" certainly lived up to its hype at Cabramatta's New Era Stadium this afternoon.
The Great Siege of Malta took place in 1565 when the Turkish Ottoman Empire tried to invade the island of Malta, then held by the Knights Hospitaller.
The Knights, with approximately 2,000 footsoldiers and 400 Maltese men, women and children, withstood the siege and repelled the Ottoman invaders, who boasted an army of 40,000 soldiers.
Fast forward 454 years and a fierce battle between the two countries took place on the Rugby League field, in an International Test Match that had equal feeling out there in the middle.
On a 35 degree day in South Western Sydney, Malta showed their muscle straight after the kick off bundling Turkey over the sideline in opening 30 seconds, then scoring on the next play through Nathan Falzon only to be denied by the referee who deemed it to be forward pass from his fullback Jye Ellul.
Poor discipline from the Turks saw back-to-back penalties awarded to Malta, with the Knights hitting the scoreboard 2 sets later through a try to veteran Aaron Grech.
Knights Halfback Jarrod Sammut nailing the conversion to make it 6 - 0 after 5 minutes of play.
Turkey who finished 7th in last year’s Emerging Nations World Championship responded with some brutal hits on the Maltese attack in the ensuing set and completed well to put the Knights deep back in their own half.
Poor discipline would again cost the Turks on the 10 minute mark after a second effort in a tackle on Kyal Greene.
The referee blowing his whistle, awarding another penalty to Malta.
Grech found space in the next set to take his team over halfway and on the 3rd play Sammut appeared to fumble the ball at first receiver, recovering just in time kicking the ball before it hit the ground. Tyson Muscat swooping on it, drawing the Turkish fullback and putting his centre Kyle Cassel over next to the posts to extend the lead to 10-0 after 10 minutes of play.
Sammut knocking over the extra’s from in front of the sticks to make it a point a minute after 12 on the clock.
Turkey again responded with brutal defence, going after Kyal Greene from the restart with some heavy contact.
Errors from both sides resulted in cheap turnovers with possession swaying for the next 5 minutes, with tempers often fraying in the hot sun. The referee needing to bring both captains in for a chat.
Frustration continued to get the better of Turkey who continued to concede penalties, inviting Malta into favourable field position.
Kyle Cassel scored his second of the day off a shortside pass from Sammut putting him in space to score down the right side after 19 minutes of play.
Sammut again pushing the ball through the uprights to lead 3 converted tries to zero.
Turkey worked their way up field and almost hit back, only to drop the ball over the try line with 15 minutes remaining in the first half.
With continuous interference in the play-the-ball, the referee lost his patience with the Turkish tactics and sent their number 5 Sergen Isik to the sin bin. The Knights took advantage in the next set to put Tyson Muscat over in the corner for his four-pointer.
Sammut’s conversion was this time unsuccessful.
Both captains received a second dressing down from the referee after a scuffle 8 minutes out from half-time.
The scores remained as is for a 22-0 Maltese lead at the break.
Turkey had a perfect start to the second half dominating possession from the kick off and putting their first points on the scoreboard though a converted try to Atilla Sahin to reduce the margin by 6 points.
Aydin Salman-Cochrane sliced through the Maltese defence with 25 minutes remaining in the second half for Turkey’s second and final try of the day underneath the goalposts.
Ali Bokeyhan Surer adding the extras to bring the points difference to within 2 converted tries.
The match then descended into stoppage-a-thon, causing frustration to creep into Malta’s game. At one stage, the Malta captain Tyler Cassel being marched for back chatting whilst challenging the referee to act on a strike on his halfback by an opposition player.
Some push and shove continued in a fiery exchange which saw Malta being penalised for several infringements.
The Knights then needed to work hard and wrestle back the ascendency.
After several more lengthy stoppages, Malta turned the screws pinning the Turks in their in-goal for a repeat set.
Five Eighth Justin Rodrigues putting a short pass to a nice line run by Jake Scott to crash over for Malta’s only try of the second half.
Sammut converting in gale-force winds to lead 28-12.
Malta’s Adam Campbell was hit late by Emre Kutup from the restart, with the referee placing the Turkish player on report.
The score remained as is for the final 10 minutes of the match with Malta Knights withstanding a late siege and repelling the Turks to become victorious.
Tries: Aaron Grech, Kyle Cassel (2), Tyson Muscat, Jake Scott.
Goals: Jarrod Sammut 4/5
Tries: Atilla Sahin, Aydin Salman-Cochrane.
Goals: Ali Bokeyhan Surer 2/2
Sin Bin: Sergen Isik
Match Referee: Mitchell Robinson