Malta defeats Italy at Kirkham Park's first international test

A sea of rugby league fans braved cold winds and forecast rain to flood Kirkham Park's Harvey Shephard Oval for a bout between two great nations.

Malta faced off against Italy for the ground's first international test match.

Big name players like Sydney Roosters fullback and former Elderslie resident James Tedesco, Newcastle Knights forward Aidan Guerra, former Canberra Raiders player Terry Campese and Gold Coast Titans forward Sam Stone were touted to attend.

However the only big name to take the field on the day was former Penrith Panthers player and Wigan Warriors halfback Jarrod Sammut.

Sammut proved invaluable to the Malta, making three out of four conversions and taking home Man of the Match.

It was close game with plenty of nail-biting moments but Malta proved to be the better side defeating Italy with a final score of 23-20.

Malta stalwart Jono Dallas battled hard through an early injury to get through the majority of the game.

Coach Aaron McDonald said Dallas' experience was key in staying on the field.

"Injury prevented him from playing at the level he would have liked, but his mental toughness allowed him to stay on the field and lend his experience to a young edge," he said.

"Being the utmost professional that he is, Dallas ensured the game was all but won before allowing himself to be replaced late in the match."

McDonald said the classy number six was Malta's answer to Cooper Cronk, leaving his mark on the game with great awareness and some handy touches and kicks.

Former Camden Rams junior Kyal Greene also broke the record for the most appearances (14) in the Maltese national jersey at the weekend's game.

Thirlmere Roosters Group 6 premiership winning hooker Adam Campbell was another stand out for the winning side.

His dive on a kick from Sammut sealed the fate of the game.

Nowra Bomaderry Jets Rugby League Football Club centre Nathan Falzon touched down for a four pointer in Saturday's match.

The Campbelltown Junior and Maltese team veteran had not represented the red and whites since his man of the match heroics in a Rugby League World Cup qualifying match at Marsa Sports Complex in June last year.

An ACL injury cruelly ruled the 35-year-old out of Malta's Rugby League Emerging Nations World Championship campaign last year.

Determined to play for his country again, Falzon has worked tirelessly to regain his fitness throughout the 2019 season and made a successful return in his eighth appearance for the Malta Knights.

Camden Rams club president Greg Copeland said it was a boon for his club to host an international contest.

"We've been working for some time to get our facilities at the right level to host more elite games in Camden," he said.

"There has been a lot of work done by Camden Council [at Kirkham Park]. Hopefully it's a sign of more things to come."

This story Malta defeats Italy at Kirkham Park's first international test first appeared on Fairfield City Champion.