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National Championship

Neptunes rally to beat rivals Sliema

San Ġiljan demolished Sirens in the opening semi-final play-off. Photo: Jonathan Borg

San Ġiljan brush aside Sirens

Neptunes came from behind to topple their neighbours Sliema 10-8 and earn a headstart in their best of three semi-final series.

Michael Spiteri Staines’ effective shadowing on Steven Camilleri unsettled the Reds in the first session, who could not quite get the measure of their opponents’ game plan.

It was 1-1 after the first session when it was evident that the Blues went for stringent man-marking.

But some loose shadowing in the second session, enabled Camilleri to beat Nicholas Grixti from seven metres.

Neptunes then inflicted further damage on the Blues when they took a 4-2 lead as the Reds revved up their scoring machine with their upfront duo Camilleri and Jake Muscat firing in the goals.

With Sliema raising the tempo and Neptunes contriving a dip in their sharpness, four goals on the trot in the third session by Jerome Gabarretta, John Brownrigg (2) and Spiteri Staines saw the Blues surge 6-4 up.

Alan Borg Cole did well to keep Neptunes afloat after Jeremy Abela had reduced the deficit to 6-5.

As the fourth session got underway, Jordan Camilleri levelled matters with an exquisite goal but Sliema nosed ahead again with Nicholas Bugelli.

It was touch and go in that final quarter, with Neptunes awarded a penalty as Steven Camilleri beat Nicky Grixti to make it 7-7.

However,  Jordan Camilleri and Nikolai Zammit put their side two goals up to effectively give Neptunes the victory.

Spiteri Staines’ second goal gave Sliema some hope but Steven Camilleri  summoned all his expertise to stifle their opponents’ final charge with a great shot.

San Ġiljan’s demolition of Sirens in the first match was on the cards from the outset.

The Saints’ heavier ammunition was always evident, even when Dorian Pisani had lighter men in the water.

Hence it was a one-way traffic encounter which had San Ġiljan pounding their way home mercilessly.

Even their goalkeeper Jake Tanti inserted himself on the scoresheet when he scored in second session by throwing the ball directly into the opponents’ goal.

It was more of a casual training session for San Ġiljan with the hapless team from St Paul’s Bay conceding goals at regular intervals.

A 9-1 lead before the ends were changed may have brought about some complacency in the ranks of Pisani’s team when Marko Orlovic’s side managed to find the Saints’ net twice and reduced the deficit to 10-3.

Nevertheless, the outcome was not in any way in question with Matthew Zammit and Ben Plumpton, both hitting a poker, helping their team to a comfortable 15-5 victory.

SAN ĠILJAN      15

SIRENS   5

(4-0, 5-1, 1-2, 5-2)

San Ġiljan: J. Tanti 1, K. Tanti, A. Galea, D. Ciantar, M. Mannino 1, M. Zammit 4, B. Plumpton 4, J. Bonavia 1, Z. Micallef 1, Darren Zammit, P.Fava 1, Dino Zammit 2, G. Vassallo.

Sirens: J. Parnis, J. Ciantar, K. Erdogan 1, G. Mellilo, J. Zerafa Gregory, T. Said 2, L. Falzon, I. Riolo, J. Napier, M. Cutajar, M. Sciberras, M. Azzopardi 1, O. Gauci, G. Farrugia1.

Refs: Stefan Licari, Peter Balzan.

SLIEMA 8

NEPTUNES 10

(1-1, 1-3, 4-1, 2-5)

Sliema: N. Grixti, J. Gabarretta 2, L. Galea 1, J. Sciberras, M. Meli, B. Cachia, M. Spiteri Staines 1, J. Soler, J. Brownrigg 2, Z. Mizzi, N. Bugelli 2, Z. Sciberras.

Neptunes: Borg Cole, J. Muscat 1, L. Calleja, G. Pace 1, S. Busuttil, J. Spiteri Staines, S. Camilleri 4, J. Camilleri 2, J. Abela 1, N. Zammit 1, S. Stellini, S. Gialanze, B. Busuttil.

Refs: Massimo Angileri, Ronnie Spiteri.

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