The scoreline didn’t matter, but the cause did. A Maltese Invitational team featuring three Malta internationals took on the Make a Pink Difference team (pictured left) at Pembroke tonight – all in the name of Breast Cancer Awareness for Europa Donna Malta.

The rugby league match was played in the open and exciting sevens form of the game and for the record, the Maltese Invitational team won 40-16, but not before they were tested and the score was a rather tight 24-16 early into the second half.

In arguably a first for local rugby, a cameraman captured all the hits, kicks and crunching defence from as near to the action as possible when he maneuvered between the players to catch all the action – to feature on Sunday’s Times of Malta.

The Make a Pink Difference boys, whose supporters filled and cheered from the small stand at the Melita FC ground, were well led by their own Malta international in Shan Francois Hussain. Hussain crossed for two tries and Times of Malta journalist and guest player Patrick Cooke dived over for a try of his own just before half time to peg the score back just when the Maltese were threatening to run away with the game.

Earlier, special guest Europa Donna Malta’s Sandy Muscat kicked off the match to a round of applause by both teams.

Watching from the sidelines, Irish Ambassador to Malta HE Mr Jim Hennessy said he was ‘very excited by the initiative and hoped that the event grows in popularity and increases awareness’.

“I expect this will become an annual event. I was already impressed by the Europa Donna Malta march led by Gertrude Abela six weeks ago” said Mr Hennessy.

Mr Hennessy added, “My initial contact with Europa Donna Malta was when on the 17th March they marched in the first ever St Patrick’s Day parade in Malta. The parade was organised by the Irish-Maltese Circle”

No mouth-guards, no shoulder pads, both teams took it to each other over two halves of 25 minutes, feeling the full wrath of their exploits by full time of the twilight fixture.

The Maltese Invitational team was made up of players from all four MRL Dove Men+Care Championship clubs – Birkirkara, Gozo, Malta Origin and Sliema.

The Make a Pink Difference team later thanked everybody who attended the event, as well as the players that made their way from Gozo, the Embassy of Ireland in Malta for the Ambassador HE Mr Jim Hennessy’s attendance and his son Dylan’s involvement in the match, Europa Donna Malta and a thank you to sponsors; Snow Queen Vodka, CG Trading Ltd, Printshop and of Pastizzi Gourmet.

The MRL thanked all the players and clubs involved in the match, Steve Cilia for his donation of physiotherapy services, and the media for supporting the match. Sunday’s Times of Malta will feature a story and video about the match thanks to Patrick Cooke. One TV will carry highlights on its sports bulletin on Saturday evening and Net TV’s TV Hemm conducted a phone interview with Shan Francois Hussain last Thursday night.

The teams tonight were;

MAKE A PINK DIFFERENCE: Shan Francois Hussain, Gabriel Felice, Steve Ross Galea, Sean Cutajar, Timothy Borg, Patrick Cooke, Nik Stagno Navarra, Dylan Hennessy

MALTESE INVITATIONAL TEAM: Sam Keep (Malta Origin RL), Tyson Freeman (Birkirkara RL), Dylan Frendo (Birkirkara RL), Mario Mercieca (Gozo RL), Mark Portelli (Gozo RL), Henri Bensara (Sliema RL), Julian Caruana (Sliema RL), Matthew Spiteri (Sliema RL)

Maltese Invitational team 40 (S.Keep 2, M.Mercieca 2, D.Frendo, H.Bensaria, J.Caruana tries; S.Keep 3/3, D.Frendo 2/2, M.Mercieca 1/1, J.Caruana 0/1 goals) defeated
Make a Pink Difference 16 (S.F.Hussain 2, P.Cooke, D.Hennessy tries; S.F.Hussain 0/2, P.Cooke 0/1, G.Felice 0/1 goals)
H-T: Mlt Inv 24-8
Ref: Mr A.Micallef
At Melita FC, Pembroke.

Photo: Tony Abela