Veterans make it nine years unbeaten with Malta victory

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RUGBY veterans Kirkcaldy Zingari kept up a nine-year unbeaten run in Europe with a winning performance in Malta on Saturday.

The over 35s team, made up mostly of former Kirkcaldy Rugby Club players, assisted by a numbers of French players from the Perpignan Club, emerged victorious from a four-team tournament hosted by Malta Marauders.

The first game kicked off in 24 degree heat between the Marauders and the Derby vets, with a strong wind blowing down the pitch.

The English team looked well organised and won the game five tries to two.

The second game saw Zingari take on the London Welsh Occasionals, who kicked off with the wind at their backs.

And they were soon applying pressure to the Zingari line, but the three-quarters, led by stand off J. Ritchie and centres Bonner and Raeside, were resolute in defence - a factor which was to be evident in all Zingari games.

There were some chances created by Welsh kicks but winger Jean-Marie could not hold the difficult chances.

So it was 0-0 at half time, but with the wind at their backs, Zingari started to create chances, and captain Bonner started the scoring by rounding the defence to cut back and score under the posts.

The Welsh then came into the match, attacking strongly until a floated pass was intercepted by Raeside to go 70 yards to score.

This seem to deflate the Welsh and Zingari finished strongly, Bonner again scoring to make it 21-0.

Malta then defeated the Welsh 20-15, before Zingari lined up against Derby for what was now touted as the tournament decider.

For most of the first half it looked like Derby, playing with the wind, would score first, but the half finished scoreless, due in most part to stout defence by all Zingari.

Early in the second half good driving play by the French and Scottish forwards set the scene for stand-off Ritchie to slice through and score under the posts.

No.8 S. Oliver got the second after he hacked the ball up field and set off after it like a whippet, and was rewarded for his chase when the ball bounced into his hands to complete a memorable score.

Still Derby attacked strongly but even with two yellow cards and four penalties in the final few minutes, they failed to score.

After a short rest Zingari were on again, versus the home team, knowing that a win would secure the tournament victory, however a 7-5 scoreline in favour of the hosts at half-time was not in the script.

After a rousing half-time talk, the Zingari really raised their game and after good back row play, Bonner spun through some weak tackles to restore the Zingari lead.

As the game wore on the Maltese forwards clearly tired allowing the visiting forwards an easy time and fittingly it was captain J. Bonner who scored the final try to win the game and the tournament.