Sliema, Neptunes and Marsaskala picked up the points at the expense of Exiles, Otters and Marsaxlokk respectively as the preliminary round resumed on Friday.
Sliema inflicted a first defeat on neighbours Exiles.
Beto Fernandez’s boys appeared to be in control as they twice distanced themselves by six goals on 9-3 and finished the match with a gap of seven goals.
The Blues took a deserved 4-1 lead by the end of the first quarter with their goals coming from Jerome Gabaretta, Zach Mizzi, Jayden Cutajar and Matthew Mifsud.
Soon after the second restart, Kurt Griscti reduced the arrears before Mark Fenech converted a penalty to make it 5-3.
But that was as far as Exiles could go as Dino Zammit made it 6-3 with a calibrated shot. Then, Mifsud completed his hat-trick and by then the advantage was a gaping six goals.
A goal netted by Griscti in the third session, cut the leeway to 6-4 before the Blues opened a five-goal gap on 11-4. Benji Cachia scored a late brace to complete the rout on 13-5.
In the first match, Otters could only contain Neptunes until the first session after which they threw the towel against their classy opponents.
There was little to suggest such a runaway victory in a balanced first quarter. But then Neptunes took over.
In the opening session, the Gozitans reacted well to level matters through Simon Apap and Luke Grech Carr after Michael Spiteri Staines and Jake Cachia had given Neptunes a 2-0 lead.
Jovan Popovic ‘s pep talk during the first session must have been the fillip his players needed as they started piling up the goals.
From then onwards, it was nothing more than a practice session for Neptunes as from the second session onwards they brushed aside their opponents who could offer no resistance.
A 6-0 second session set the pattern for the rest of the match when the Neptunes scored 18 times without reply.
In the second match, a flurry of goals in the middle sessions earned Marsascala an expected victory over Marsaxlokk.
Marsaskala were always in the lead after conceding an early goal. Their advantage widened to five goals on 8-3 before the start of the last session, complemented by a hat-trick from the veteran Paul Privitera in the third session.
In the last session was balanced with both teams sharing four goals with David Pace Lupi reaching his poker.
(2-3, 0-6, 0-2, 0-9)
OTTERS: M. Xerri, M. Bonnici, K. Scicluna, L. Grech Carr 1, S. Apap 1, D. Dimech, I. Azzopardi, S. Dimech, L. Dimech, M. Farrugia, Z. Bartolo, A. Dimech, G. Gatt Ellis.
NEPTUNES: A. Borg Cole, J Muscat 2, S. Gialanze 4, G. Pace, J Cachia 4, J Spiteri Staines, M. Farrugia, J Camilleri 3, A. Fava, M Spiteri Staines 3, A. Fenech 2, M Castillo 2.
Refs: R. Magri, D. Rotondano.
(1-1, 3-1, 4-1, 2-2)
MARSASKALA: J. Micallef, J.C. Cutajar, A. Camenzuli 1, P. Privitera 3, R. Greco, G. Galea, K. Navarro, M. Manara, D. Pace Lupi 4, G. Sammut, J Ciantar 2, M. Carani, A. Muscat.
MARSAXLOKK: S. Mifsud, R. Spiteri 1, C. Cutajar, B. Zammit, T. Agius, D. Bugeja 1, M. Zammit 2, L. Mallia, L. Saliba, R. Galea 1, J. Valletta, A. Cook, M. Farrugia.
Refs: F. Vildacci, A. DeRaffaele.
(1-4, 2-4, 1-0, 1-5)
EXILES: M. Castillo, N. Saliba, L. Gialanze, P. Paris 2, S. Xerri de Caro, M. Fenech 1, K. Griscti 2, N. Paris, J Bajada, M. Aquilina, D. Fenech, G. Borg.
SLIEMA: N. Grixti, J. Gabaretta 1, L. Galea, D. Rizzo, M. Meli 1, B. Cachia 2, J. Cutajar 1, M. Mifsud 3, J. Brownrigg 1, J Gambin, Z. Mizzi 1, D. Zammit 3, A. Theuma.
Refs: D. Rotondano, R. Spiteri.
PLAYING ON SATURDAY
Group A: 5pm Birżebbuġa Freeport vs Ta’ Xbiex Amigos; 6.05pm Sirens Mecca Marine vs Valletta Izibet; Group B: 7.10pm Barracudas vs San Ġiljan JP Projects.
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