The Malta Independent 4 October 2022, Tuesday
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San Ġiljan await their opponents in the final after Sliema pile more pressure on Neptunes

Wednesday, 10 August 2022, 07:26 Last update: about 3 months ago

Stewart Said

NEPTUNES VIDEOSLOTS........ 9

SLIEMA FRANK SALT............. 11

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

 

A fine display by Sliema Frank Salt permitted them to keep on hoping for a berth in the final against San Ġiljan.

Neptunes started the semi-final with a 1-0 game advantage having finished in second place against Sliema's third position, but this has now been wiped out.

Sliema showed grit to overcome Neptunes, a team passing from one of their most difficult periods in recent memory.

Jerome Gabarretta was one of those who stood out in the game as despite his last appearances after returning from injury, this match showed the real quality of the towering centre. Dino Zammit showed efficiency in front of goal as Beto Fernandez prepared the team well, considering also that they had more rest than Neptunes.

The champions now have lost their last four direct encounters and they are under huge pressure to win on Thursday, stay in the hunt for the title but also avoiding the chance of not making it to the final. Jordan Camilleri’s absence is proving to be one of the downfalls for Neptunes as coach Dorian Pisani needs to regroup his team, although his reign is just at the beginning.

After only a minute and a half from the start of the game Sliema were already 2-0 up. They ended up winning the first session 4-2 as Dino Zammit and Jamie Gambin both replied to the goals by Neptunes scored by captain Stevie Camilleri.

Despite missing a penalty from Dino Zammit, the number 12 of Sliema redeemed himself a minute later for a 5-2 lead. But in a span of two and a half minutes, Neptunes cancelled the three-goal difference from a brace by youngster Sam Gialanze and Jeremy Abela.

The game kept going back and forth as after Sliema regained the lead 7-5 by the end of the second session, Neptunes managed to turn the tables midway through the third session, this time from Gialanze and a brace by Abela. Like they did in the second session, Jerome Gabarretta and Dino Zammit rose to the occasion to put Sliema 9-8 ahead.

Stevie Camilleri scored his third of the game from penalty to equalise in the beginning of the last session. Dino Zammit showed skill to put Sliema 10-9 in front and Benji Cachia scored the important goal in a crucial moment from man-up as Neptunes’ reaction wasn’t bold enough to salvage the game.

Neptunes: A. Borg Cole, J. Muscat, S. Gialanze (3), G. Pace, J. Cachia, J. Spiteri Staines, S. Camilleri (3), J. Camilleri, J. Abela (3), M. Spiteri Staines, A. Fenech, M. Castillo, M. Rossi, M. Farrugia

Sliema: N. Grixti, J. Gabarretta (3), L. Galea, D. Rizzo, M. Meli, B. Cachia (1), J. Cutajar, M. Mifsud, J. Brownrigg, J. Gambin (1), Z. Mizzi (1), D. Zammit (5), A. Theuma, K. Borg

Referees: Alex de Raffaele, Stefano Pinato

 

SAN ĠILJAN JP PROJECTS..... 14

SIRENS MECCA MARINE....... 12

(3-3), (7-2), (2-1), (2-6)

 

San Ġiljan JP Projects learned their lesson not to underestimate Sirens Mecca Marine. In their last two encounters, Sirens offered a stern opposition despite ending on the losing side. This time, San Ġiljan gained control of the game from the second session with the only consolation for Sirens was that they managed to reduce the final margin in the last session.

This victory put the saints, who started with a 1-0 game lead thanks to their first place in the round robin league as a aginst Sirens' fourth, in the final.

The fact that Sirens played their last game last Saturday in the Malta Sports Journalists Association Cup could have influenced Sirens physically. They started the game on a high as Matthew Sciberras from penalty gave them the lead. San Ġiljan reacted and scored twice but Sirens regained the lead through goals from Isaiah Riolo and Gabriel Melillo. Nikolai Zammit equalised from a penalty before the end of the session.

After Jerome Zerafa Gregory’s goal, San Ġiljan fired no less than six consecutive goals, two of them from man-ups and another two from penalty. A commanding 9-4 lead gave San Ġiljan coach Zeljko Kovacic a cushion to control the game. Napier reduced the gap but Ben Plumpton from a man-up assured his team to keep the five-goal lead at the end of the second session.

San Ġiljan lowered their rhythm in the last two sessions mainly due to the rotation made by Kovacic. Nikolai Zammit and Matthew Zammit continued to widen the gap while Zerafa Gregory scored for Sirens from man-up. Although it was too late, Sirens scored five consecutive goals in the last four and a half minutes of the game to cut the deficit from seven to only two goals.

San Ġiljan: J. Tanti, P. Borg (1), A. Galea (3), N. Schiavone, R. Caruana, M. Zammit (4), B. Plumpton (2), D. Tully, J. Bonavia (1), N. Zammit (3), D. Zammit, N. Bugelli, G. Vassallo, M. Ortoleva, D. Ferò

Sirens: T. Micallef, P. Serracino, K. Erdogan (2), J. Sciberras, J. Zerafa Gregory (2), G. Farrugia, M. Chircop (1), I. Riolo (2), J. Napier (1), M. Cutajar, M. Sciberras (1), M. Azzopardi (1), M. Bonello Dupuis, G. Melillo, K. Agius

Referees: Ronnie Spiteri, Massimiliano Sponza

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