A try in the last play of the match broke the hearts of the UM Wolves RFC Men’s Team in their latest CISK League fixture last Saturday against Kavallieri RFC.

It was an important match with both teams occupying 4th and 5th in the table, and the first of two back-to-back matches owing to postponements earlier in the season.

With the pitch softened owing to overnight rain, and Marsa’s customary wind determined to play a part, the stage was set for a tense and yet exciting affair.

Wolves played the first half with the wind behind them, and took immediate advantage of that, with Irish full back Cian Mulkern slotting two early penalties home in the first 8 minutes to open up a lead of 6-0.

Kavallieri however pegged back, using the inside man off a scrum close to the Wolves try line to bundle over and score.  The successful conversion made it 7-6 to Kavallieri.

The Wolves lineout was strong and gave a platform for the rest of the team to work with, but come scrum time it was Kavallieri who dominated, turning over most Wolves balls which came its way.

The half went on with Kavallieri under pressure: the wind made it difficult to find touch with their clearances, meaning that Wolves were able to hold the ball and come back at them.  Kicks from Wolves meanwhile were finding their targets: both Philippe Ioffe and Virain Hariramani kicked 50-22s to put even more pressure on their opponents.

That is exactly what happened on the stroke of 20 minutes, when winger Simon Borg caught a clearance kick and ran into the Kavallieri 22 metre area.

George Strickland – returning to the lineup in this game – then won a penalty, which was taken quickly despite being in kicking range.  Scrum half Cody Schmidt played it out through the backline, with the ball going from fly-half Gabriel Seychell to Hariramani and finally to Ioffe.

It took two separate attempts to bring him down some 10 metres from the Kavallieri line. Strickland was at his carrying best as the ball swung back to the centre, before Schmidt played it quickly out wide to Kurt Aquilina, who in turn found Hamish Boult who crashed over the line to score.

The try went unconverted, leaving the score at 11-7.

Opportunities for either side were few and far between, although both sides had a try each disallowed: winger Axel Jeffers thought he had scored as he flew over the line, but play was brought back as he had gone into touch, while Kavallieri thought they had taken the lead on the stroke of half-time, but they too were brought back for an infringement which led to one of their players being yellow-carded.

Kavallieri playing downwind in the second half began to pile pressure onto Wolves as they sought to wrestle their way back into the game, but Wolves held on until the 57th minute.

A scrum close to the Wolves try line was pushed backwards, and Kavallieri ran the ball out of the base towards the line.  The first player didn’t quite make it, but a deft offload meant that the second player did.

They were in the ascendancy, and not more than five minutes later, a break on the left wing resulted in Kavallieri’s third try of the match – giving them a 19-11 lead as the game entered its final quarter.

But Wolves responded.  A string of penalties only a few minutes later saw them with a lineout 15 metres from the Kavallieri try line.  A clean take from substitute and debutant Nicholas Schuler gave a platform for the ball to make its way out wide.

Two phases left space out wide, and Schmidt found Boult, who isolated his man before passing to Ioffe who in turn made the final pass to Gareth Blundell who bundled over to score.

It was Wolves’ turn to be in the ascendancy, and six minutes later they took the lead.  Boult carried the ball off the base of a scrum in the Kavallieri 22, offloading to Schuler, who made a quick pass to Schmidt who flew over with an acrobatic finish to put the Wolves back in front.

No conversions meant that the score stood at 21-19.

That’s how it remained until the last play of the match.  Boult had a mazy run off the resulting kick-off, beating six defenders before being brought down as he reached the last man, but nothing further came of it.  Kavallieri themselves had an opportunity to take the lead back with a penalty, but the ball sailed wide.

They would ultimately get the five points with the last play of the match.  A lineout on halfway saw Kavallieri get go-forward.  A heroic last-ditch tackle by Schmidt stopped a man just short of the line, but Kavallieri bundled their way over the try line from the ensuing ruck.

With the try converted, the score ended 26-21 in their favour.

The UM Wolves Men’s Team will now face Kavallieri again on Saturday 9 March as the season steadily approaches its conclusion.

STARTING 15:  Kurt Sciberras, Jonathan Pace, Aitor Santos Juanes, Agustin Rabini, Kurt Aquilina, Gareth Blundell, Hamish Boult, George Strickland, Cody Schmidt, Gabriel Seychell (C), Axel Jeffers, Virain Hariramani, Philippe Ioffe, Simon Borg, Cian Mulkern

SUBS USED: Tyrese Hayman, Matteo Alessandro, Nicholas Schuler, Damian Mifsud, Michael Bartoli

SUBS NOT USED: Daniel Ghirlando, Nick Xuereb, Michael Galea, Luke Maistre

Wolves Admin

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