Sliema may have had a couple of hiccups so far this year. But as was the case in the Winter League and Enemed Cup, they have a knack of running into form at the right time and their opponents are well aware of the Blues’ potential this season.
On Friday, they annihilated Sirens, a team which have ruffled the heavyweights’ feathers this season in no uncertain manner.
However, Beto Fernandez made the right tactical provisions to demolish the opponents whose steam ran out early in the second session. Sliema’s superiority from the second session was beyond question.
Jerome Gabaretta (three goals) and colleagues had no noose around them as they were able to play with gusto and good effect.
Jamie Gambin profited from some lax marking to put the Blues ahead. A speedy exchange of passes early in the next quarter helped Jayden Cutajar put his team two-up, before Gabaretta started his personal show.
Sirens were in total disarray as Ben Cachia, Kieran Borg, Dino Zammit, Gambin again and Mark Meli inflicted further damage to make it a limpid 11-1 advantage in the last session.
Matthew Sciberras made it a less gaping scoreline with a five-metre throw. But Borg left the Blues 10 goals ahead until Matthias Azzopardi made it a final 12-3.
Ta’ Xbiex beat Marsaxlokk to finish the second phase of the competition on a winning note.
Zoran Maslovar’s team had a steady first session and took a 4-0 lead. Marsaxlokk tried to fight back but could only come to within three goals as Alistair Cook, Enrico Mallia and Luigi Mallia reduced the gap in the second session. In the last two sessions, Ta’ Xbiex setting up an efficient block which prevented Marsaxlokk from redressing the situation.
Jacob Saliba made it 8-3 before Ben Zammit and Max Zammit (2) again cut down the leeway to 8-5. Jayden Cassar completed his hat-trick as Ta’ Xbiex registered a precious double on Marsaxlokk. Cain Cutajar made it 9-7.
The second encounter on Friday’s card offered the prospects of a balanced match. Otters against Barracudas – two teams of equal weight – looked set to be resolved on the ability to win expulsions and exploit the resultant extra-man sets.
Barracudas started well but Otters responded to take 5-1 lead in the second session. The Northenders remained unperturbed and fought bravely in the latter quarters to save the game and take the first point of the season.
0-1, 5-0, 0-2, 0-2)
OTTERS M. Xerri, M. Bonnici, K. Scicluna 1, L. Grech Carr 2, M. Farrugia, D. Dimech, S. Apap, Z. Bartolo 1, S. Dimech 1, A. Dimech, G. Gatt Ellis, K. Micallef, L. Spencer.
BARRACUDAS M. Gouder, A. Piccione 1, A. Magri, P. Micallef 1, D. Ciantar, R. Sciortino 2, S. Aquilina, L. Galea, D. Camilleri, S. Camilleri, A. Mifsud, TJ Mifsud 1, C Bugeja, J. Bugeja, Y. Erdogan.
Referees: M. Schiavo, S. Licari.
(1-0, 3-1, 3-0, 5-1)
SLIEMA N. Grixti, J. Gabaretta 3, L. Galea 1, D. Rizzo, M. Meli 1, B. Cachia 1, J. Cutajar 1, M. Mifsud, J. Brownrigg, J. Gambin 1, Z. Mizzi, D. Zammit 1, A. Theuma, K. Borg 1.
SIRENS T. Micallef, P. Serracino, K. Erdogan, J. Sciberras, J. Zerafa Gregory, G. Farrugia, M. Chircop, I. Riolo 1, J. Napier, M. Cutajar, M. Sciberras, M. Azzopardi, M. Bonello Dupius.
Referees: R. Spiteri, D. Mazzoccoli.
TA’ XBIEX 9
(4-0, 3-3, 1-1, 2-3)
TA’ XBIEX R. Coleiro, JC Saliba, E. Aquilina 1, J. Pace Mizzi, E. Meli, S. Engerer, J. Saliba 3, J. Cassar 3, E. Schembri 2, Z. Cutajar Licari, B. Attard Littschw, J. Chircop, D. Galea Mule, P. Tabone, T. Fenech.
MARSAXLOKK S. Mifsud, R. Spiteri, C. Cutajar 1, B. Zammit 1, T. Agius, D. Bugeja, M. Zammit 2, L. Mallia 1, L. Saliba, R. Galea, G. Gatt, E. Mallia 1, M. Farrugia, A. Cook 1, R. Scerri.
Referees: D. Mazzoccoli, R. Magri
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