(2-4, 2-5, 1-1, 2-2)
Malta lost its fifth game in succession in the European Waterpolo championships being held in Belgrade. In a match valid for the classification from the ninth to the 16th place, Malta were beaten 12-7 by Romania.
Malta will now be involved in matches for the 13th to 16th place, with its next opponent to be Slovakia, beaten 16-15 by Germany in the match that followed. Malta will play Slovakia on Wednesday at 9.30am.
Some greater attention in the first two sessions could have enabled Malta to remain in the game longer than they did, considering that a few of the Romanian goals in this first part were scored because of wrong positioning in defence. In contrast, Malta were more effective in attack.
The performance in defence improved after the change of ends, so much so that in the second half of the game the partial score was 3-3, but the damage had already been done, and Romania could cruise home to a victory.
The Romanians appeared physically stronger right from the start but, unlike what had happened in all four previous games, Malta created more danger in attack. Still, a couple of soft goals enabled Romania to build a 4-2 advantage at the end of the first session, with goals from Negrean (2), Ghiban and Gheorghe. At the other end, two goals from Steve Camilleri – one from a penalty, the other from a man-up situation both earned by Matthew Zammit – kept Malta in the game.
Negrean remained a thorn in the Maltese defence with the two more goals in the second session, as the Romanians extended their lead to 9-4. The other goals were scored by Radu, Busila and Ghiban, with Malta replying with goals from man-up situations scored by Jordan Camilleri and Cousin.
The third quarter started with a wonder goal by Steve Camilleri, who netted from five metres after turning past an opponent. The Maltese side defended much better in this session, limiting Romania to just one goal scored 16 seconds from the end by the usual Negrean. Malta were however guilty of missing a number of good opportunities in attack.
The game’s rhythm notably dropped in the final quarter, with Romania administering their lead as the Maltese side battled on. Steve Camilleri and Niki Lanzon scored for Malta with Ghiban and Popoviciu replying for Romania.
Malta’s team was made up of the following players:
Alan Borg Cole, Nikki Lanzon, Jerome Gabarretta, Nicholas Bugelli, Mark Meli, Matthew Zammit, Stevie Camilleri, Jordan Camilleri, John Brownrigg, Aurelien Cousin, Ben Plumpton, Dino Zammit, Nicky Grixti.