The Malta Independent 4 December 2023, Monday
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Waterpolo: San Ġiljan clinch the quintuple crown in style

Monday, 28 August 2023, 22:10 Last update: about 4 months ago



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

What seemed to be a wish, it is now a reality. San Ġiljan JP Projects have won five honours from five in a stellar 2023 for them. They dominated against their closest rivals Neptunes Videoslots to secure their 13th championship and the first back-to-back titles since the mid-90s.


During the two games of the play-off finals, San Ġiljan were never behind their opponents and always had a response whenever Neptunes tried to gain some ground. From goalkeeper Jake Tanti till the least player in the team, everyone gave their input, coached by the ever-determined Zeljko Kovacic.

Neptunes were disappointing. Following Saturday’s game in which they were whiskers of winning the game, this time they didn’t make it difficult for San Ġiljan with a lethargic display, leaking goals in crucial moments. Their foreigners Aleksandar Ivovic and Filip Filipovic didn’t live up to their expectations during this game, two players who were acquired to provide the extra quality needed to challenge San Ġiljan.

A more cautious approach was adopted for the game. Like the first game, San Ġiljan still took the lead but this time Neptunes were more in the game. They took the lead from Maro Jokovic but captain Stevie Camilleri equalised from a man-up situation. Youngster Jake Bonavia kept San Ġiljan in front until Filip Filipovic’s powerful strike gave no chance to Jake Tanti.

A quick double by Andreas Galea early in the second session gave a two-goal cushion to San Ġiljan. Neptunes had to work their way to stay close and did so by a splendid goal by Sam Gialanze from man-up and Jake Muscat.

Neptunes’ number two even was centimetres away from giving Neptunes the lead, but Tanti saved his lob. Few seconds later and Ben Plumpton restored the double advantage for San Ġiljan.

The third session was crucial and showed why San Ġiljan were worthy winners. Neptunes were short of ideas and combinations, missing even their two man-up situations. San Ġiljan defended bravely and hit their opponents in the middle of the session with a brace by the consistent Aaron Younger.

A four-goal difference gave Neptunes an uphill battle. Filipovic’s early strike in the session reduced the gap to three goals but Jokovic kept Neptunes at a distance. Ben Plumpton made it 10-5 and Nikolai Zammit sealed the championship with a wonderful backhand. They controlled the game till the end as the numerous San Ġiljan supporters present for the game, started their celebrations. As soon as Andreas Galea raised the ball in the final second of the game, celebrations erupted. The moment they all waited for arrived as Joe Agius, Chief Technology Officer of BOV alongside ASA President Karl Izzo presented the trophy to captain Matthew Zammit.

San Ġiljan: J. Tanti, N. Bugelli, A. Galea (3), B. Plumpton (4), M. Jokovic (2), M. Zammit, J. Bonavia (1), A. Younger (2), J. Abela, N. Zammit (1), D. Zammit, R. Caruana, G. Borg, G. Bonavia, N. Bonavia

Neptunes: A. Borg Cole, J. Muscat (2), S. Gialanze (1), G. Pace, M. Castillo, J. Bajada, S. Camilleri (1), J. Camilleri, A. Ivovic, F. Filipovic (2), A. Fenech (1), E. Mallia, M. Rossi, D. Bugeja, A. Fava

Referees: Raffaele Colombo, Alex de Raffaele



Birżebbuġa in the driving seat to win the First Division



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

Birżebbuġa Freeport need only a win on Wednesday evening to secure the First Division title. They had to recover from a slow start after losing the first session 3-0 but a great comeback in the second session resulted in a five-goal streak to take the lead for the first time.

Birżebbuġa took control of the game in the third session scoring another three goals to take a comfortable 8-3 lead. Marsaxlokk who played again with one foreigner, didn’t have the desired strength to fight back and after an early goal by Giuseppe Mannino in the last session, Birżebbuġa controlled till the end.

Birżebbuġa: M. Sladden, P. Borg, N. Cassar, B. Grech, D. Brguljan (4), M. Manara (1), S. Bezzina, D. Cutajar, B. Erdelyi, K. Tanti (1), G. Mannino (3), M. Curmi, C.D. Borg, J. Sciberras, D. Farrugia

Marsaxlokk: Mi. Farrugia, M. Lanzon, B. Zammit, Ma. Farrugia, S. Mifsud, J. Valletta, M. Zammit, M. Aquilina, R. Galea (1), S. Misic (2), J. Borg Tabone, L. Mallia (2), S. Mifsud, A. Cook (1), A. Aquilina

Referees: Riccardo Carmignani, Ronnie Spiteri

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