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No joy for Malta waterpolo as Dutch secure 15th place

MALTA               9
NETHERLANDS               19
(2-5, 2-5, 2-4, 3-5)

The Netherlands condemned Malta to bottom spot in the European Championship as the Dutch eased to a 19-9 win in the play-off for 15th place at the Dunai Arena in Budapest.

Coach Karl Izzo had warned in his pre-match comments that the Dutch were in a different league to his outfit and the Oranje confirmed that prediction with a slick display which saw them overpower the Maltese in all areas of the game to ensure they avoid finishing at the bottom of the 16-team competition.

The Maltese players did try to put on a stern challenge to the Netherlands but their efforts were undone by some sloppy defending in the first two sessions that were severely punished by the Dutch who raced to a commanding lead at half-time.

From then on, there was no way back for Malta who suffered their fifth successive defeat in the championship to miss out on their goal of at least improve on their 16th placing achieved in Barcelona two years ago.

Steve Camilleri was again Malta’s leading scorer with five goals with Matthew Zammit and Ben Plumpton following with two goals apiece.

The Dutch quickly seized control of the match right from the outset with Jesse Koopman giving them an early lead.

The Maltese did try to fight back but they rarely managed to have an effort on goal. That played into the hands of the Dutch players who doubled their lead through Lars Gottemaker following a quick transition before Koopman grabbed his second of the match. The Dutch made it 4-0 from a Robin Lindhout before the Maltese finally put their name on the scoresheet through Steve Camilleri.

That goal gave Malta some impetus and Matthew Zammit grabbed the team’s second of the match from another man-up.

But it was the Dutch who restored their lead two seconds from the buzzer with Koopman completing his hat-trick.  

Steve Camilleri put Malta just two goals behind early in the second session when he converted another man-up set.

Luck was not on Malta’s side soon after when Dino Zammit inadvertently diverted the ball into his own net before the Dutch all but wrapped up the match when netting two quick-fire goals through Guus Van Ijperen and Koopman to surge 8-3 ahead.

The Maltese seemed to lose all their concentration as seconds later Lars Gottemaker profited from poor play from the Maltese to make it 9-3.

Camilleri stopped momentarily the rot to net Malta’s fourth goal before Van Ijperen netted his second of the quarter to leave the Dutch 10-4 ahead when ends were changed.

In the third session, Ben Plumpton put his name on the scoresheet for Malta with a fine long-range strike but the Dutch response soon arrived as Van Ijperen and Lindhout extended their team’s lead to 12-5.

Camilleri was unlucky to see his shot hit the bar from a man-up and that was duly punished by Sam Van Den Burg from another numerical advantage set.

Van Ijperen then showed his class with a fine overhead shot to further rubberstamp Netherlands’ dominance.

At the other end, Matthew Zammit produced a fine finish himself at the other end for 14-6 scoreline at the end of the third session.

Malta again started well in the fourth session with Alan Borg Cole saving a penalty taken by Lindhout before Steve Camilleri added a seventh goal.

But Lindhout soon made amends with a long-range strike to make it 15-7.

Malta also missed a penalty through Steve Camilleri who saw his shot hit the upright before Nispeling found the net with an excellent lob.

Camilleri continued to add to his tally with another long-range strike but the Dutch soon converted another quick transition through the excellente Van Ijperen.

Soon after, Ben Plumpton added his second of the match but the Netherlands sealed their win through Nispeling.

MALTA: N. Grixti, J. Gabarretta, A. Galea, G. Pace, Darren Zammit, M. Zammit 2, S. Camilleri 5, J. Camilleri, J. Abela, A. Cousin, B. Plumpton 2, Dino Zammit, A. Borg Cole.
NETHERLANDS: E. Wagenaar, K. Veenhuis, J. Winkelhorst, S. Van Den Burg 1, G. Van Ijperen 6, R. Lindhout 3, L. Gottemaker 2, J. Nispeling 2, H. Muller, P. Janssen, J. Koopman 4, T. Lucas 1, T. Huijsmans.
Referee: Robert Tiozzo (Croatia), Levan Berishvili (Georgia).

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