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Exiles secure Premier status as Neptunes earn big win

Neptunes crushed Valletta on Tuesday at the National pool. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

EXILES 5

MARSASKALA 4

(0-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2)

EXILES M.Castillo, N.Saliba, L. Gialanze, P. Paris 1, T. Sullivan, S. Xerri de Caro, M. Fenech 1, K. Griscti 1, N. Paris, J. Bajada, M. Aquilina 1, D. Fenech, G. Borg, M. Martellacci 1.

MARSASKALA J. Micallef, L. Falzon, A. Camenzuli 1, P. Privitera, R. Greco, G. Galea, K. Navarro, D. Pace Lupi 1, G. Sammut 1, J. Ciantar 1, M. Carani, A. Muscat, S. Fava, F. Scardino

Refs: A. DeRaffaele, A. Rovandi

Exiles exacted sweet revenge over Marsaskala to send the southseasiders to the First Division. On Tuesday, they shook off the bold challenge of their rivals to finally steer clear on a 5-4 victory which matured in the last session.

Although it was a low-scoring affair, the crowd at Tal-Qroqq savoured the fighting spirit of both teams, as Exiles earned a place in the Premier Division at the expense of Marsascala to reverse last year’s fortunes.

A cautious start had both teams looking blunt when in possession. It was all square at the end of the opening quarter which produced little excitement.

Marsaskala’s defensive cover was mainly pressing with a shield closing on the centre as the possession was about to expire.

Ayrton Camenzuli gave the Southseasiders the lead and Mark Fenech equalised as the exchange gathered momentum.

No quarter was given as both sides went principally for press leaving the team in possession with few options apart from a speculative distant pot at goal.

A splendid shot from an angled position, eight metres out, had Jake Ciantar putting Marsaskala ahead for the second time. In no time the ball was in the net on the other side when Matteo Martellacci hooked in from a narrow angle. Exiles gained a penalty which Max Aquilina converted.

With Exiles raising the tempo and Marsaskala contriving a dip in their sharpness, a goal each from Philip Paris and Kurt Griscti and it was suddenly 5-2 for the Whites.

Time was running out for Marsaskala. David Pace Lupi and Gerald Sammut made amends to re-open hopes for Babay Arpad’s side.

It was as close as they could get to Exiles with Matthew Castillo growing taller between the goalposts, sticking out his hand to deny them.

Exiles fans’ elation was understandable as Marsaskala had been finally downed.

NEPTUNES 20

VALLETTA 3

3-1, 8-0, 3-1, 6-1

NEPTUNES A. Borg Cole, J. Muscat 5, S. Gianlanze 2, G. Pace 1, J. Cachia, J Spiteri Staines 1, S. Camilleri 7, J. Camilleri 1, J. Abela 1, M. Spiteri Staines, A. Fenech 2, M. Castillo, M. Rossi, M. Farrugia.

VALLETTA B. Busuttil, N. Farrugia, M. Pace, T. Said, S. Busuttil 1, Z. Micallef, D. Paolella 1, M. Mifsud 1, J. Culic, A. Agius, K. Galea, K. Cremona, A. Bugeja, L. Felice, R. Attard

Refs: G. Bonavita, R. Magri

Earlier, a full-strength Neptunes took little time to assert their superiority over Valletta, and a 12-1 advantage before changing ends was a clear indication of where the wind was blowing.

Neptunes not untypically, insisted on the all-pitch press as the Citizens thrived to apply tenacity to their game.

Neptunes’ victory always looked to be a very comfortable one with most of their players inserting their names in the scorers’ list. Yet, Neptunes’ duo of Steven Camilleri and Jake Muscat were having a field day when they scored seven and five goals respectively.

TA’XBIEX 10

OTTERS 6

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

OTTERS M.Xerri, M. Bonniċi 5, K. Scicluna, L. Grech Carr 1 , M. Farrugia, D. Dimech, I. Azzopardi, S. Dimech, L Dimech, S. Apap, Z. Bartolo , A. Dimech, M. Grech

TA’ XBIEX R. Coleiro, JC Saliba, E. Aquilina 2, Z. Cutajar Licari 2, E. Meli 1, S. Engerer, J. Saliba 2, J.Cassar, E. Schembri 3, B. Attard Littschw, P. Tabone, J. Chircop, D. Galea Mule.

Refs: P. Balzan, G. Bonavita

In the last match, honours went to Ta’ Xbiex who played some efficient waterpolo throughout with veteran Edward Aquilina pulling the strings for his team, helped by Elijah Schembri scorer of a hat-trick.

Otters were always chasing the scoreline and at one point in the third session, they closed the gap to 5-3. Matthias Bonnici was Otters’ chief scorer with five goals.

Fixtures

Wednesday 6.15pm Group B M’Xlokk Browns vs Barracudas; Group A 7.20pm Sirens Mecca Marine vs B’Buga Freeport; Group B 8.25pm San Giljan JP Projects vs Sliema Frank Salt Real Estate

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