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Neptunes widen gap in title race

Neptunes Grimaldi again produced supremely confident fare to lower the colours of current champions San Ġiljan Salini Resort and in so doing widen the gap to four points in the race for the title.

Much as their 15-5 first round victory over the Saints may have appeared a fluke result scorewise, yesterday they dispelled that belief when disposing of opponents who belied their pre-season tag of favourites for the title.

Indeed, Neptunes’ astute coach Zoran Maslovar has imbued in his boys a sense of unshakeable self-confidence and tactical discipline unequalled by other teams.

Their core players led by the team’s poster-boy Stevie Camilleri and fuelled by the non-stop Niki Lanzon, Jordan Camilleri and Cosmin Radu, with goalkeeper Alan Borg Cole completing the steady rearguard, frustrated their opponents.

The Saints were unable to outfox their opponents especially when netting only three out of their nine extra man sets – Neptunes scored as many but from seven occasions.

On open play San Ġiljan could not quite find the space for an effective pot at goal and in the end they also paid the price for some profligacy.

The Reds’ 3-0 opening session lead was annulled midway through the second quarter before the Balluta team regained the three-goal advantage to reach midpoint 7-4 up. Meanwhile Camilleri reached his hat-trick out of the four he netted.

With the useful Timmy Agius out on three fouls, another fringe player, Marc Lanzon, was called to duty and this player duly obliged when he made it 5-3.

Two goals were shared in the third session, with Radu getting his usual goal and Peter Borg scoring his second.

It was 8-5 into the last session. The Reds were still the better side and it was no surprise when they finished off their opponents 2-1 for a 10-6 final scoreline.

Neptunes need a win against Sliema, otherwise the Saints will still keep their aspirations ticking.

In the first match Valletta McDonald’s avenged their defeat at the hands of Exiles Jet Freight when they beat their opponents from Sliema 14-10, a result that keeps them within distance of making the fourth place their own at the expense of Sirens.

The City team’s victory matured in the last session which they won 6-3. Until then it was very close, with the lead changing hands repeatedly only for Valletta to again nose ahead with a last-gasp goal in that penultimate session by hat-trick hitter Michael Cordina.

Then came Exiles’ capitulation with Valletta opening a 14-8 advantage before Exiles closed the gap to 14-10.

The other top-scorers were Dmitrii Kholod for Valletta and Milos Vukicevic for Exiles, who both netted a hat-trick.

Summaries

Neptunes          10
San Ġiljan         6
(3-0, 4-4, 1-1, 2-1)

Neptunes: A. Borg Cole, N. Lanzon 1, E. Radu 2, M. Cutajar, C. Agius, M. Lanzon 1, S. Camilleri 4, J. Camilleri 2, J. Abela, M. Zammit, B. Lanzon, M. Azzopardi, M. Castillo.

San Ġiljan: J. Sammut, P. Borg 2, A. Galea 1, B. Vapenski 1, Darren Zammit, M. Zammit, K. Galea, C. Mercieca, B. Plumpton, A. Cousin 1, P. Fava, Dino Zammit 1, D. Camilleri.

Referees: M. Dalli, D. Rotondano.

Exiles 10
Valletta 14
(1-3, 3-0, 3-5, 3-6)

Exiles: I. Bugeja, J. Rizzo Naudi, S. Vassallo 2, D. Pace Lupi, D. Borg Millo, E. Gravina, S. Gravina 1, K. Grixti 2, N. Paris 1, A. Bianchi, G. Ciappara, M. Vukicevic 3, K. Lanzon 1.

Valletta: R. Sciortino, J. Spiteri Staines 1, A. Agius, M. Rizzo 2, A. Mifsud, R. Mock 2, D. Paolella 2, D. Spiteri, M. Cordina 3, C. Zammit 1, D. Kholod 3, A. Zarb Cousin, M. Spiteri Staines.

Referees: P. Balzan, L. Iacobelli.

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