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Neptunes win narrowly as San Ġiljan, Birżebbuġa ease through

Neptunes edged Sirens to top Group A. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

SIRENS 8

NEPTUNES 9

(2-2, 3-3, 2-2,1-2)

SIRENS T. Micallef, P. Serracino, K. Erdogan 1, J. Sciberras 2, J. Zerafa Gregory 1, G. Farrugia 2, M. Chircop, I. Riolo 1, J. Napier, M. Cutajar, M. Sciberras, M. Azzopardi 1, M. Bonello Depuis, G. Mellilo, K. Agius.

NEPTUNES A. Borg Cole, J. Muscat, S. Gialanze 1, G. Pace, J. Cachia, J. Spiteri Staines, S. Camilleri 5, J. Camilleri, M. Farrugia, M. Spiteri Staines 1, A. Fenech 1, M. Castillo 1, A. Fava.

Refs: A. Torneo, P. Balzan

Neptunes took the lead in Group A after Friday’s scraping win over a disciplined Sirens for whom goalkeeper Thomas Micallef pulled off a series of excellent saves.

However, the profligacy of the Balluta Bay team, without Jake Muscat, was very evident in their man-up sets. When they did find space for a pot, they either found the frame or Micallef sticking out his hand, to deny them. To complicate matters, Steven Camilleri also missed two penalties.

To their credit, Sirens under the stewardship of Gianni Farrugia, author of a hat-trick, were always in the game. On two separate occasions, they came back momentarily after being two goals down, on 5-3 and 7-5, scores which gave Neptunes a false sense of security.

Still, they could not shrug off their uneasiness, and Sirens’ gritty resistance made life difficult. Sirens levelled the score to 5-5 but Sam Gialanze and Mark Castillo netted for a 7-5 advantage. Still, Sirens came back with Jacob Sciberras’s two quick goals.

Matthias Azzopardi made it 8-7 for Sirens in the last session. At this point, the northerners may have been caught between crosswinds of administering their slim advantage and not forsaking their positive play. Neptunes which had Steven Camilleri scoring five goals, at the beck and call of his colleagues, stepped up a gear to turn the tables on Sirens.

OTTERS 6

BIRŻEBBUĠA 16

(1-4, 0-5, 2-3, 3-4)

OTTERS M. Xerri, M. Bonniċi 2, K. Scicluna, L. Grech Carr 1, M. Farrugia, D. Dimech, I. Azzopardi, S. Dimech, L Dimech, S. Apap, Z. Bartolo 3, A. Dimech, M. Grech

BIRŻEBBUĠA M. Vassallo, J. Farrugia 1, N. Cassar 2, B. Grech 2, C. Mifsud, R. Mock 1, D. Farrugia, S. Bezzina 1, K. Tanti 1, G. Mannino 3, M. Curmi 2, M. Sladden, G. Sammut 3.

Refs A. Chimenti, A. DeRaffaele

In the second match, Birżebbuġa completed the formalities of securing their premier division status with a huge 16-6 win over hapless Otters.

It was 9-1 halfway through after which Pierre  Borg made wholesale substitutions. Yet there was no respite in their scoring rate as Gabriel Sammut got into the hat-trick bracket to reach Giuseppe Mannino, and Miguel Curmi netted a brace.

EXILES 7

SAN ĠILJAN 14

(0-4, 2-4, 2-2, 3-4)

EXILES M. Castillo, N. Saliba, L. Gialanze, P. Paris, T. Sullivan, S. Xerri de Caro, M. Fenech 2, K. Griscti, N. Paris, J. Bajada 2, M. Aquilina 3, D. Fenech, G. Borg.

SAN ĠILJAN J. Tanti, P. Borg 1, A. Galea 3, N. Schiavone, R. Caruana 1, M. Zammit 2, L. Brownrigg, D. Tully, J. Bonavia, N. Zammit 6, D. Zammit, N. Bugelli. G. Vassallo, M. Ortoleva 1.

Refs A. Torneo, M. Angileri

In the last match, making use of all their units without minimally affecting their balance and strength, San Ġiljan breezed to victory over an Exiles side that showed signs of deficiencies in front of young Gareth Vassallo, who had a good game, between the posts. Not a very good omen for Aurelien Cousin’s side ahead of their must-win match against Marsaskala next Tuesday.

The disparity between the two teams, especially when the Saints had their regular units in action was very clear, a seven-goal push in the first part of the game was enough to set the patterns of the proceedings. Exiles were too frail to offer any resistance.

By the time the team shifted sides, the Saints were six goals in front. San Ġiljan did not quite maintain the initial scoring tempo in the second part of the game. Nikolai Zammit finished the chief scorer with six goals.

Next Fixtures

SUNDAY Group B 5pm Sliema vs Marsaxlokk, 6.05pm Barracudas vs Marsaskala, Group A 7.10pm Valletta vs Ta Xbiex.

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