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Saints sink Blues in fiery duel

Neptunes made to fight

San Ġiljan closing the gaps to their goal against Sliema, yesterday. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

San Ġiljan closing the gaps to their goal against Sliema, yesterday. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

The match between Sliema Betsson and San Ġiljan Salini Resort was not quite an ill-tempered duel, but it was tense from beginning to end with a fiery finale which had the Saints lowering the Blues’ colours on a 12-7 scoreline, yesterday.

The early balance between the sides indicated a gruelling but sporting contest as there was no quarter given. Expulsions, some of which reached the limit, were a feature of the match.

Eventually, the champions opened a 9-6 lead with five minutes left after Marco Cuk lost a penalty late in the third part of the game when Sliema were 5-4 down.

With John Soler scoring the third of his four goals to trim down the deficit to 6-5 early into the last quarter, Sliema went further behind as Fava completed his hat-trick followed by Boris Vapenski’s goal.

Conversions at either end by Nicholas Bugelli and Ben Plumpton put the Saints three lengths ahead on 9-6 with five minutes remaining.

Then came the definite turning point as Jerome Gabarretta was excluded without substitution 32 seconds later, an incident which effectively sealed the outcome in San Ġiljan’s favour.

Sliema, who had Mark Meli in the squad but not in the water (they also had Kai Dowling injured early on and was only used sparingly), were on the ropes and the champions were able to canter to a comfortable 12-7 victory which had seemed unlikely given the balance between the sides until early in that last quarter.

In the previous match, Neptunes Grimaldi were made to fight hard for maximum points which helped the unbeaten Reds retain their one-point lead over second-placed San Ġiljan.

The Reds’ 8-6 victory over Sirens Ritter Sport was obtained thanks to a decisive 3-1 third session scoreline in a contest which had the Northerners giving as much as they got.

Paolo Baldinetti’s plan to eliminate the threat of Cosmin Radu, who was very often employed in the number one position, almost came up trumps as the left-hander was rarely given space.

With Neptunes’ Steve Camilleri intent on shadowing Sergi Mora, who eventually hit four goals, the Reds had to rely on the scoring expertise of their evergreen player Niki Lanzon, scorer of a vital early hat-trick.

Otherwise, the Reds’ thin wafer squad was happy to play the possession period to the maximum after the Camilleri brothers had put their team ahead on 7-4 early in the final session.

Goals from Mora and Radu at each end maintained Neptunes’ three-goal lead before Marco Grech made it 8-6 with three minutes to go. After that, Neptunes were intent on administering their advantage till the end as their overused units had their energies drained.

In the First Division, leaders Marsaxlokk Fischer stretched their lead over second-placed Marsa-scala to nine points after beating Otters Nivea 20-7.

The Gozitan side were out of the reckoning in no time as Karl Galea and Ivan Vuksanovic, with a hat-trick each, gave Marsaxlokk an early headway.

Summaries

Sirens 6
Neptunes 8
(1-0, 2-3, 1-3, 2-2)

Sirens: N. Grixti, Z. Mizzi, S. Mora 4, G. Pace, M. Grech 1, I. Riolo, M. Balucci, D. Cutajar 1, J. Napier, J. Sciberras, L. Caruana, N. Farrugia, J. Cremona.

Neptunes: A. Borg Cole, N. Lanzon 3, C. Radu 1, M. Cutajar, T. Agius, M. Lanzon, S. Camilleri 2, J. Camilleri 1, J. Abela 1, M. Zammit, B. Lanzon, M. Azzopardi, M. Martellacci.

Referees: A. DeRaffaele, G. Nicolosi.

Sliema 7
San Ġiljan 12
(2-1, 2-4, 0-1, 3-6)

Sliema: R. Coleiro, J. Gabarretta 1, E. Aquilina 1, C. Cluett, M. Meli, J. Soler 4, M. Fenech, K. Dowling, J. Brownrigg, J. Gambin, M. Cuk, N. Bugelli 1, Z. Sciberras.

San Giljan: J. Sammut, P. Borg 1, A. Galea, B. Vapenski 3, Darren Zammit 1, M. Zammit 1, K. Galea 1, C. Mercieca 1, B. Plumpton 1, A. Cousin, P. Fava 3, Dino Zammit, D. Camilleri.

Referees: M. Angilleri, A. Pascucci.

Marsaxlokk 20
Otters 7
(4-0, 5-1, 4-1, 7-5)

Marsaxlokk : D. Abela, C. Spiteri De Barro 5, K. Debattista, K. Galea 4, C. Gialanze, C. Bugeja 1, S. Meli 1, I. Vuksanovic 4, B. Buhagiar 1, R. Scerri 2, K. Navarro, G. Busuttil 2, A. Xuereb.

Otters : R. Bonnici, M. Borg Millo, M. Cacici, L. Hyzler 2, M. Borg, D. Dimech 1, K. Scicluna, M. Jelaka 4, S. Dimech, G. Debono, C. Martin, R. Gauci, M. Xerri.

Referees: R. Magri, A. Pascucci.

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