Expected wins for top contenders Neptunes and San Ġiljan emerged when they faced Valletta and Birzebbuga in the Premier Division on Wednesday.
That Neptunes cantered to this 17-7 victory is an understatement as the Reds eased off to an emphatic victory to re-open a three-point lead at the top of the standings. San Giljan went a step further as they crushed Birzebbuga 23-6.
Most of the Neptunes goals came from Steven Camilleri with five, and Michael Spiteri Staines and Jake Muscat with three strikes each.
Spiteri Staines took just over three minutes to score his hat-trick as Neptunes started in roller-coaster fashion, taking a 7-1 first-session lead. With their foot still on the pedal, Neptunes increased their lead to 10-3 by the interval. The seven-goal gap was indicative of the leaders’ absolute supremacy.
Except for two well-timed shots from Miguel Zammit and a cute lob from Niki Lanzon, Valletta could do little else.
The dismantling went on in the third eight-minute period as the Reds’ momentum stayed up. At this juncture, Neptunes’ guns were supplied primarily by Steven Camilleri, who scored three goals and Jake Muscat completed his hat-trick. One had the impression that Neptunes could score at will yesterday – Valletta had long looked a beaten lot.
Valletta battled on bravely with Miguel Zammit, who finished their leading scorer with five goals as they finished the match comprehensively beaten, never mind their opponents easing off.
Likewise, a third session spree during which San Giljan struck 10 goals enabled the Saints to register a mammoth victory over Birzebbuga on 23-6.
The south seasiders were never on a par with their much-quoted opponents and that third quarter only helped Dorian Pisani’s side to widen the victory gap.
San Giljan started like a whirlwind, winning the first session 5-1 before the teams changed ends with the Saints leading 10-1.
Inspired largely by the Zammit tandem – Dino and Matthew Zammit, who scored four apiece, the Saints’ foothold was also secured by their teamwork moulded around their core players including Ben Plumpton, Andreas Galea, and youngster Jake Bonavia who also scored four goals.
Birzebbuga could not keep up with their opponents’ rhythm, this resulting in their inability to net enough goals to bridge the gap. Their winning margin in all sessions was proof of this.
The first match resulted in an easy win for Sirens with Jerome Zerafa Gregory and John Napier providing their side’s main ammunition with a hat-trick each.
After an advantage of five goals at the halfway, Sirens increased that victory gap at the end for a comfortable 12-4 win over Marsaxlokk.
(4-1, 2-0, 4-2, 2-1)
Sirens: G. Galea Curmi, M. Grech, K. Erdogan, J. Sciberras, J. Zerafa Gregory 3, G. Farrugia 1, M. Sciberras 1, I. Riolo 1, J. Napier 3, G. Mellilo 1, L. Caruana, M. Azzopardi 2, O. Gauci.
Marsaxlokk: B. Busuttil, S. Stellini, M. Pace 1, M. Martellacci 1, T. Agius, L. Saliba, J. Galea, K. Cremona, Z. Micallef, R. Scerri, M. Cacici, J. Portelli, F. Buhagiar, S. Busuttil 1, L. Mallia 1.
Referees: P. Balzan, F. Brasiliano
(7-1, 3-2, 4-2, 3-2)
Neptunes: A. Borg Cole, J. Muscat 3, L. Calleja, G. Pace 2, M. Castillo, J. Spiteri Staines 1, S. Camilleri 5, J. Camilleri, J. Abela 1, M. Spiteri Staines 3, A. Fenech, S. Gialanze 1, A. Bugeja, R. Galea 1.
Valletta: R. Sciortino, P. Borg, E. Aquilina, M. Stellini, A. Agius, R. Mock, D. Paolella, M. Mifsud, N. Farrugia, M. Zammit 5, N. Zammit, N. Lanzon 1, B. Muscat, K. Tanti 1.
Referees: Alex deRaffaele, M. Sponza.
SAN GILJAN 23
(5-1, 5-0, 10-2, 3-3)
San Ġiljan: R. Coleiro, D. Zahra 1, A. Galea 3, D. Fero, R. Caruana 1, M. Zammit 4, B. Plumpton 3, J Bonavia 4, D. Ciantar, Darren Zammit 1, K. Galea, Dino Zammit 4, G. Vassallo, M. Ortoleva 2.
B’bugia: M. Rossi, J. Farrugia 2, N. Cassar 1, D. Pace Lupi 2, D. Incorvaja, P. Serracino, S. Vassallo, D. Cutajar, M. Bonnici, M. Borg, R. Spiteri 1, S. Fava, L. Abela.
Referees: R. Spiteri, F. Brasiliano