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Sliema back on song as Neptunes go clear at the top

Neptunes fended off the stern challenge of Exiles to pick up another win. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

After conceding their first league defeat at the hands of San Ġiljan, Sliema picked expected spoils at the expense of Birżebbuġa in the first series of crossovers.

Likewise, in the other crossover match, there was nothing Exiles could do against leaders Neptunes whose powerful shooting sent Matthew Castillo’s net bulging with regularity.

Sliema will hope this will be a victory which would hopefully open the way for a long winning streak for the Blues whose pride was vented last Wednesday when San Ġiljan punctured their invincible aura.

Sliema’s seven-goal barrage in the opening session dismantled Birżebbuġa who found no answer to Zach Mizzi’s scoring instincts.

At 10-1 it was game over by the long interval.

Neil Cassar and Keith Tanti pulled two goals back before two more from John Brownrigg, sandwiching a goal from Mark Meli, closed the quarter on 14-3 for Sliema.

There was finally some respite in Sliema’s scoring rate, allowing Birżebbuġa to salvage some pride by winning the last session 5-3.

In the second match of the day, Neptunes gave Exiles a flimsy goal-start before completing the formalities with a 13-8 win.

Max Aquilina had given Exiles the lead on their first possession, but Neptunes turned it their way to close the first session, leading 4-1 with Alec Fenech already scorer of a hat-trick.

Still, they could not shrug off their fighting opponents.

In fact, in the next quarter, the game brewed with excitement not only for the alternating fortunes, which started when Max Aquilina reduced the gap for Exiles, but also for some excellent goals with Steven Camilleri standing out as the Reds opened a 7-4 lead before the change of ends.

More lethal shots from Camilleri, who added two more goals to his tally, and also backed by powerful shielding, helped Neptunes increase their advantage before the start of the last session.

Two goals at either end left the proceedings at status quo with Neptunes easy winners.

In the First Division, Otters were too strong for Barracudas.

This was by all accounts a brisk Otters performance which helped them break their duck in no certain matter when disposing of Barracudas in Friday’s first crossover in the bottom division.

OTTERS           13

BARRACUDAS 4

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

OTTERS: M. Xerri, M. Bonnici 1, K. Scicluna 1, L. Grech Carr 4, M. Farrugia 2, D. Dimech, I. Azzopardi, S. Dimech, L. Dimech 1, S. Apap 1, Z. Bartolo 3, A. Dimech, G. Gatt Ellis.

BARRACUDAS: M. Borg, A. Piccione 1, A. Magri 1, P. Micallef, D. Ciantar, R. Sciortino, S. Aquilina, L. Galea, D. Camilleri, J. Bugeja 1, A. Mifsud , TJ Mifsud 1, C. Bugeja.

Refs S. Licari, M. Giacchini.

NEPTUNES      13

EXILES              8

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

NEPTUNES: A. Borg Cole, J. Muscat 3, S. Gialanze, G. Pace, J. Cachia, J. Spiteri Staines, S. Camilleri 5, J. Camilleri, J. Abela 2, M. Spiteri Staines, A. Fenech 3, M. Castillo, M. Rossi.

EXILES: M. Castillo, N. Saliba 1, P. Paris 1, T. Sullivan, S. Xerro de Caro, M. Fenech 2, K. Griscti 1, N. Paris, J. Bajada, M. Aquilina 3, D. Fenech, G. Borg.

Refs: A. Baretta, R. Magri.

BIRŻEBBUĠA  8

SLIEMA            17

(1-7, 0-3, 2-4, 5-3)

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

SLIEMA: N. Grixti, M. Mifsud 1, L. Galea 2, D. Rizzo, M. Meli 1, B. Cachia 2, J. Cutajar, K. Borg 1, J. Brownrigg 3, J. Gambin 3, Z. Mizzi 4, D. Zammit, A. Theuma.

Refs: R. Spiteri, M. Giacchini.

PLAYING ON SATURDAT: 5pm Ta’ Xbiex vs Marsaskala; 6.05pm Marsa-xlokk vs Valletta; 7.10pm San Ġiljan vs Sirens.

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