Malta came from 10-0 down mid way through the first half to defeat Norway, 30-20 to take the Rugby League European Federation Bowl at the Victor Tedesco Stadium, Hamrun, late Friday night.
Centre Paul Bartlett’s 55-metre effort just after the hour mark, gave the Maltese hosts a 28-14 lead that was too much for the Norwegians.
Malta had vice-captain and Gateshead Thunder prop Chris Parker sent from the field moments before half-time, referee Steve Davis later removing Birzebbugia's Clayton Cassar for a raised forearm to reduce the Maltese to only 11 players.
Norway’s Erik Sonny Mellor was a rock in defence and the prop troubled the Maltese throughout the night but Malta’s first silverware came in front of a boisterous home crowd at Hamrun that saw the Maltese lift for the second half assault.
Malta coach Anthony Micallef said “The support was outstanding. They held us up strong when the guys had to dig deep after we had Chris Parker dismissed”
“The first half was tight but the second half showed what these boys are made of”
Malta’s Joss Howland and Paul Borg led from the front in the forward line after Parker's dismissal, Mark Cortis rising to the challenge in the centres in the second half and Cardiff’s Paul Bartlett continued his fabulous national team form with two tries for the Maltese. The first Gozitan rugby league player for Malta, Clifford Debattista was solid and improved as the game progressed.
North half-back Malcolm Attard was cool with the boot, kicking five goals from as many attempts including one from the sideline as Maltese supporters expoloded into raptures come full time.
Malta officials hope the victory will see the Mediterranean nation enter 2013 Rugby League World Cup Qualifying from next year.