San Giljan, at times at their devastating best, made short shrift of Sirens and the Saints’ 14-12 victory secured them a place in the Play-off finals.
Sirens remained buoyant in the first quarter when they shared six goals with their opponents but were completely submerged in the second, during which they conceded seven goals.
Sirens took the lead through Matthew Sciberras with San Giljan overturning the scoreline. Sirens’ 2-2 equaliser was followed by the Saints’ third goal through Nikolai Zammit. Both sides were forced to shoot from a distance as Isiah Riolo was afforded space to make it 3-3.
Yet that late equaliser could do very little against the avalanche that Sirens hit in the second session.
The Saints found some rhythm with Nikolai Zammit and Andreas Galea orchestrating play on the outside positions. With Matthew Zammit – scorer of four goals – given significant attention in the centre, the St Julian’s side were still too strong in their forays asBen Plumpton looked supreme.
It was already time for Zeljko Kovacic to ring in some changes through substitutions. San Giljan edged their opponents 2-1, leaving them 12-6 in front at the start of the fourth.
Pride was at the core of Sirens’ efforts in the last session as San Giljan grew casual as Marco Orlovic’s side cut the leeway considerably for a 14-12 final score.
Blues recover to draw series
Starting the semi-final Play-Off series 1-0 down, Sliema surged to the fore with a gritty performance to leave their opponents stunned as Neptunes’ crisis deepened with a fourth consecutive defeat.
Five-goal Dino Zammit was again the catalyst of Sliema’s victory, with centre Jerome Gabaretta also getting the plaudits. But all in all, it was a great team performance for the Blues who now draw the series 1-1, making San Giljan wait to discover their opponents.
Sliema took a 2-0 lead early on which was neutralised before they regained the advantage through a direct five-metre throw from Dino Zammit. Sliema extended their lead to 4-2 from Jamie Gambin.
It was generally tight marking on both Zammit and Steven Camilleri but none too suffocating as both players were given space for a pot at goal. Camilleri proved to be a thorn in Sliema’s side with his sharp shooting.
Likewise, Zammit scored with a distance shot on the other end to extend his side’s to three goals. Sam Gialanze reduced the gap with two top goals as Jeremy Abela levelled matters.
Jerome Gabaretta pushed the goal from close range before Zammit restored Sliema’s comfortable advantage.
Yet, quick goals from Gialanze and Abela (2) after the changeover provided the Reds with a flip before Sliema hit back strongly to re-take the lead.
Excitement brewed in the final session as Dorian Pisani’s side doubled their efforts to salvage the game and their pride. Camilleri restored equilibrium at the start of the session, but Zammit made it 10-9 and thus gave this derby the traditional tit-for-tat flavour. Benji Cachia struck to put Sliema two goals in front for a final 11-9 score.
SAN GILJAN 14
(3-3, 7-2, 2-1, 2-6)
SAN GILJAN 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. Fero.
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 Du Pius, G. Mellilo 2, K. Agius.
Referees R. Spiteri, M. Sponza.
(2-4, 3-3, 3-2, 1-2)
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.
SLIEMA N. Grixti, J. Gabaretta 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.
Referees A. De Raffaele, S. Pinato.
Thursday 11 August, 2022 06.30pm – Second Game – Semi-final Play-off series – Sliema vs Neptunes.
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