An astounding turn-around to a game which looked to be developing on tight grounds had Neptunes upstaging Sliema in the third session when they netted no fewer than five times without reply to inflict a second heavy defeat in the space of a week to their fierce rivals.
Neptunes were off to a flier and took a three-goal lead in the first session with some effective play. Steven Camilleri put the Reds early on followed by his brother Jordan Camilleri who converted their first man-up set.
Then, Steven Camilleri managed to beat the buzzer to put Neptunes 3-0 up before Michael Spiteri Staines scored twice in quick succession to trim down the deficit.
There was nothing to separate from these teams in the second session. James Spiteri Staines soon hit back for Neptunes but Nicholas Bugelli and Jerome Gabarretta scored in quick succession to put the Blues back in contention.
But Jake Muscat and Steven Camilleri, from the five-metre mark, restored Neptunes’ two-goal cushion before the change of ends.
Neptunes’ edge was more evident in the third session when they opened a five-goal advantage. Their goals coming from the usual suspects – Jake Muscat (2) and Steven Camilleri.
Then, Gabarretta saw his effort from a penalty well blocked by Alan Borg Cole.
Sliema paid dearly for this miss as Jordan Camilleri and Spiteri Staines put Neptunes 11-4 up.
Sliema did not know what hit them. They had looked confident in the opening two sessions but in the third session the Blues stalled completely. Sliema shaded the last session but the result had been sewn up with time to spare.
Although, starting on a slow tempo, Marsaxlokk were good enough to lower the colours of Ta’ Xbiex.
Ta’ Xbiex were the better team in the opening quarters during which they twice they led by two goals.
Marsaxlokk made up for their deficit in the third session when they scored three times to go ahead for the first time. That was followed early in the fourth by Raoul Greco’s equaliser on 6-6 before Marsaxlokk’s chief scorer Timothy Agius hit his fourth and fifth goals to give the southseasiders an 11-8 win.
Earlier, Marsascala laid the platform for their win in the first quarter which they won 5-2.
Otters refused to give up though to pull within one goal of their rivals, but the team led by coach Arpad Babay held firm to preserve their slim lead.
Kyle Navarro played a prominent role in Marsascala’s victory after scoring three goals.
(5-2, 2-3, 2-3, 1-1)
Marsaskala: J. Micallef, JC Cutajar 1, A. Camenzuli 1, P. Privitera, M. Aquilina 2, L. Grixti, K. Navarro 3, M. Manara 1, L. Felice, G. Galea, R. Attard, M. Chircop 1, A. Muscat, L. Grech Carr 1
Otters: M. Xerri, M. Lanzon 2, R. Caruana 1, L. Hyzler, E. Meli, L. Gialanze 4, K. Scicluna, G. Mizzi, D. Dimech, D. Zahra 2, D. Tully, S. Xerri, D. Spiteri.
Refs: Alex de Raffaele, Richard Magri.
TA’ XBIEX 8
(0-1, 3-3, 3-1, 5-3)
Marsaxlokk: R. Coleiro, J. Portelli, M. Martellacci, L. Saliba 2, T. Agius 5, B. Lanzon, J. Galea, K. Cremona 2, S. Micallef 2, M. Pace, M. Cacici, O. Zammit, F. Buhagiar.
Ta’ Xbiex: M.Vassallo, M. Mifsud 1, R. Greco 2, D. Rizzo 1, F. Cutajar, M. Demarco, M. Carani 2, N. Saliba 1, G. Sammut, N. Schiavone 1, S. Azzopardi, M. Farrugia.
Refs: Peter Balzan, Neville Mercieca.
(3-2, 3-2, 5-0, 3-4)
Neptunes: A. Borg Cole, J. Muscat 3, L. Calleja, G. Pace 1, S. Busuttil, J. Spiteri Staines 2, S. Camilleri 5, J. Camilleri 2, J. Abela, N. Zammit 1, S. Stellini, S. Gialanze, B. Busuttil.
Sliema: N. Grixti, J. Gabarretta 1, L. Galea, J. Sciberras, M. Meli 1, B. Cachia 1, M. Spiteri Staines 3, J. Soler, J. Brownrigg, Z. Mizzi, N. Bugelli 2, Z. Sciberras.
Refs: Mario Dalli, Massimo Angileri