San Giljan struck a psychological blow on the eve of the Premier Division Play-Offs with an emphatic win over Neptunes to win the BOV Knock-Out final on Wednesday.
What a fascinating final this has turned out to be! San Giljan were again the protagonists as they toppled Neptunes for the second time in four days to inflict more damage on an ailing Neptunes side.
Again, it was a match that kept the large crowd in the stands on their toes. Neptunes were aware that this was a must-win match for them as they wanted to lift their spirits up after back-to-back defeats to Sliema and San Giljan punctured their invincible aura.
They put their hearts into it and at one point in the third session, they had a two-goal advantage on their rivals. But San Giljan were unperturbed as they came back with their star players Matthew Zammit, Nikolai Zammit, and Andreas Galea.
Dorian Pisani, Neptunes’ new coach, must have been bracing himself for a baptism of fire when his side squared up to his former side San Giljan in the KO final.
Fifteen seconds into the game, Peter Borg immediately showed Pisani the size of the task he faces when he put his side 1-0 up. Jake Muscat converted the first man-up situation for the Reds. The Saints regained the lead through Zammit. On the other side, a similar situation arose for Neptunes but this time, Muscat fumbled the man-up. This turned out costly as Jake Bonavia and Peter Borg made it 5-3 for San Giljan at the end of the first session.
The Reds managed to pull the strings in the second session as they netted twice without reply, the last being a superb goal by Jeremy Abela. Neptunes’ free-scoring stalwart Alec Fenech helped himself to a hat-trick to nullify San Giljan’s advantage and put his side in the lead for the first time on 7-6 before the change of ends.
The third session saw the two side’s heavyweights waking up to their respective responsibilities. First, Steven Camilleri increased his team’s lead with a cute lob over the goalkeeper. Then, Matthew Zammit of San Giljan levelled matters for 8-8. However, it was Nikolai Zammit, formerly of Neptunes, who stole the show with two goals. First, he converted a 5-metre throw before restoring his side’s two-goal cushion at the end of the third session.
Neptunes gave everything they had in the last session. Early in the session, Muscat again closed the gap for Neptunes from penalty. Excitement was brewing as Fenech flicked in beautifully to restore balance. But Zammit impeccable from the five-metre throw, made it three out of three before Andreas Galea punished further the Red’s flat-out approach. Darren Zammit made it a final 13-10.
Marsascala won the waterpolo First Division Knock Out yesterday when they beat Valletta 9-7 in the curtain-raiser to the big match of the day.
The team from the south, guided by Arpad Babay, are without doubt the dominant outfit in their category, winning the second direct encounter with Valletta in four days.
The Southseasiders were soon in their stride, notching four goals in quick succession to take a 4-1 lead in the second quarter. Although, Valletta answered well as the gap did not alter in the middle sessions with Joe Cremona’s side winning the last session, and there was no doubt as regards the final outcome.
They were spearheaded by Malcolm Manara, who scored a hat-trick with efficient teamwork backing him up as the team picked up their spot time and again.
PREMIER DIV. FINAL
SAN GILJAN 13
5-3, 1-4, 4-1, 3-2)
SAN GILJAN J. Tanti, P. Borg 2, A. Galea 2, N. Schiavone, M. Zammit 1, B. Plumpton, D. Tully, J. Bonavia 2, N. Zammit 4, D. Zammit 1, N Bugelli, G. Vassallo, M. Ortoleva 1, D. Fero.
NEPTUNES A. Borg Cole, J. Muscat 4, S. Gialanze, G. Pace, J. Cachia, J Spiteri Staines, S. Camilleri 1, J. Abela 1, M Spiteri Staines, A. Fenech 4, M. Castillo, M. Rossi.
Referees L. Bianco, M. Angilleri
FIRST DIV. FINAL
(1-4, 2-2, 2-2, 2-1)
VALLETTA B. Busuttil, N. Farrugia, M. Pace, M. Cacici, S. Busuttil 1, Z. Micallef 1, D. Paolella 1, M. Mifsud 2, S. Micallef, A. Agius, K. Galea, K. Cremona, A. Bugeja, R. Attard 2, L. Felice.
MARSASKALA J. Micallef, JC Cutajar 2, A. Camenzuli, P. Privitera, R. Greco 1, G. Galea, K. Navarro, M. Manara 3, D. Pace Lupi, G. Sammut 1, J. Ciantar 1, M. Carani 1, A. Muscat.
Referees F. Romolini, R. Spiteri
SAN GILJAN 10
(3-2, 2-3, 2-3, 3-1)
SAN GILJAN S. Tanti Desjardin, N. Azzopardi 2, B. Vassallo, M. Bonello Ghio, E. Borg 1, E. Miceli, A. Bonello 2, M. Darmanin, A. Diacono 3, D. Azzopardi, M. Zammit 2, S. Cassar, K. Xuereb.
SLIEMA K. Plumpton, K. Camilleri 1, S. Figallo, L. Fenech 1, A. Restall, L. Cachia 2, F. Paolella 3, S. Camilleri, K. Cutajar, E. Schembri, Y. Bonett 2, A. Friggieri, M. Micallef.
Referees L. Bianco, A. DeRaffaele
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