Exiles miss out on top-four berth
Exiles Jet Services just failed to reach their objective of collecting maximum points and a top-four play-offs berth when they could only share the spoils against Sliema McDonald’s in yesterday’s first match from the Winter League.
It was a must-win clash for the tenacious outfit under the charge of Joe Caruana Dingli and they went about their business in confident mood when they edged in front on several occasions, mostly in the first two sessions.
They also nosed ahead 9-8 midway through the last quarter before they levelled matters in extremis to neutralise the Blues’ 10-9 lead.
Sliema were forced to summon the scoring expertise of their prolific goal-getter John Soler and the opportunism of veteran Clint Debono, who each netted four goals.
The Winter League title holders were jolted earlier on when they twice trailed by two goals with the ageless John Paris, scorer of a hat-trick, evoking his brighter days.
Eventually, the Blues’ option was to go for stringent press to cut down on their opponents’ possession time, a ploy which paid dividends but for Exiles’ bold comeback at the death. Unfortunately, their efforts proved futile.
Exiles will now meet Marsascala in a play-off for fifth place on May 11.
Sirens Ritter Sport managed to make the top position their own with a 15-13 victory over a battling Marsascala Solid Base who went close to springing a surprise against opponents who looked better on paper.
The result means that the northerners face fourth-placed San Ġiljan and Neptunes Emirates play third-placed Sliema in the semi-finals on May 7.
It was a bumpy start for Sirens as Marsascala twice took a two-goal lead inside the first session. The southseasiders were playing boldly, even if they went behind by three goals in the second quarter.
A six-goal advantage for Sirens at one point was whittled down to just a single goal with under two minutes left before Sirens, for whom Charlie Zammit scored four goals, sealed their victory on a two-goal margin.
(3-3, 3-2, 1-2, 3-3)
Exiles: A. Borg Cole, J. Rizzo Naudi, K. Rizzo Naudi 1, D. Pace Lupi 2, T. Sullivan 1, M. Calleja 2, J. Paris 3, K. Grixti, A. Zarb Cousin, S. Cini, S. Vassallo, D. Borg, K. Lanzon 1.
Sliema: R. Coleiro, J. Gabaretta 1, N. Lubrano 1, P. Privitera, M. Cordina, J. Soler 4, D. Paoella, J. Spiteri Staines, C. Debono 4, C. Cluett, M. Rizzo, M. Spiteri Staines, D. Abela.
Refs: Mario Dalli, Massimo Angilleri.
(4-4, 3-1, 5-4, 3-4)
Sirens: J. Cremona, P. Micallef, P. Micallef, P. Borg 1, A. Sammut, R. Mock, J. Borg 3, D. Cutajar 3, M. Grech 1, C. Zammit 4, L. Caruana, D. Zammit 1, C. Mercieca 2.
Marsascala: E. Arrigo, C. Spiteri de Barro 2, D. Caruana, F. Buhagiar, K. Galea, B. Plumpton, J. Licari 3, D. Zammit, S. Micallef, R. Scerri 3, D. Cassar 2, O. Zammit 2, K. Navarro 1.
Refs: A. DeRaffaele, Peter Giordano.