SAN GILJAN 12
(3-4, 2-2, 3-1, 4-5)
J. Tanti, N. Bugelli 3, A. Galea, B. Plumpton, M. Jokovic 4, M. Zammit 1, J. Bonavia 1, A. Younger 2, J. Abela, N. Zammit, N. Bonavia, R. Caruana, G. Borg, G. Bonavia, K. Calleja.
A. Borg Cole, J. Muscat 2, S. Gialanze 1, G. Pace, M. Castillo, J. Bajada 1, S. Camilleri 2, J. Camilleri, A. Ivovic 2, F. Filipovic 4, A. Fenech, E. Mallia, M. Rossi, D. Bugeja.
Referees Peter Balzan, Luca Bianco.
Waterpolo is an intense, physical game of excitement if not tempered with tension, especially when a lot is at stake and teams are balanced.
All these elements were present in Saturday’s match between San Giljan and Neptunes. This may have also stemmed from the fact that both teams were looking to strike a psychological blow to their opponents at the end of the crossovers.
It turned out to be another fascinatingly close and exciting duel, unfortunately, marred by too much tension in the water and on the San Giljan terraces.
San Giljan and Neptunes shared 24 goals, a result which reserved the Saints’ slim lead at the top on goal difference at the start of the Premier Division.
Unsurprisingly, the match was dominated by rigid man-to-man shadowing, especially from Neptunes.
Seven goals were scored in a combative first session which turned into a personal duel between Matthew Zammit and Aleksandar Ivovic in the centre and Ben Plumpton shadowing Filip Filipovic.
Aaron Younger was ominously hanging on two fouls after just four minutes but still remained in the water.
Two goals adrift, San Giljan recovered when Nicholas Bugelli filtered through the middle channel to flick in the ball from Jake Bonavia’s delivery to make it 3-3. But the balance kept tilting Neptunes’ way as Jake Muscat gave the Reds a slim advantage at the end of the first session.
Jake Tanti, the San Giljan custodian was prominent again early in the second session when parring away Filipovic’s second five-metre throw of the match as the goalkeeper emerged the winner in what developed into a personal duel with the Serbian.
Filipovic replied to Maro Jokovic’s goal to make it 5-4 for Neptunes.
Marking was very tight in front of Alan Borg Cole with the double cover of Neptunes’ foreign duo on Zammit, too suffocating to leave some space for a pot at goal.
But Bugelli was playing a blinder on the left flank and his backhand at a crucial moment allowed San Giljan to equalise. A snapshot by Stevie Camilleri gave Neptunes a 6-5 lead before the change of ends.
San Giljan were chasing their opponents again and it was left to the unlikely heroes of Bonavia and Bugelli who put San Giljan in front for the first time early in the third session.
The battle was still raging with the Saints seemingly overcoming their initial moments of difficulty when Younger made it 8-6. But then, Jake Bajada profited from lax marking in front Tanti to reduce the gap to just one goal at the start of the final eight minutes.
A swerving shot on the buzzer by Younger at the start of the fourth quarter restored San Giljan’s two-goal cushion.
The Saints’ expertise in preserving their lead was in doubt as Neptunes staged a bold recovery through Sam Gialanze and a bullet from Filipovic.
Jokovic made it 10-9 but San Giljan’s joy was short-lived when Ivovic scored with a five-metre throw. Plumpton was fouled out as Zammit was expelled for protests.
Still, San Giljan survived as Jokovic and Andreas Galea scored in quick succession to restore their two-goal lead with less than two minutes to go.
The Reds closed in to make it 12-11 through Filipovic with just over a minute left as Dorian Pisani called a timeout. With nine seconds left, Ivovic passed the ball to Muscat who equalised with an angled shot.
TA’ XBIEX 13
(1-4, 5-4, 1-4, 6-3)
M. Vassallo, L. Montebello, L. Grech Carr, K. Grech, R. Mock 1, J. Saliba 2, C. Milakovic 7, U. Vasic 3, J. Culic, Z. Bartolo, J. Farrugia, G. Galea Curmi, M. Ortoleva, K. Agius.
M. Castillo, Z. Cutajar Licari 1, Z. Micallef, V. Gallo 5, G. Molina 3, S. Xerri de Caro, M. Fenech 1, K. Griscti, N. Paris, M. Martellacci 1, M. Aquilina 2, N. Saliba 2, F. Azzopardi, M. Paris Roding, L. Pursehouse.
Referees Ronnie Spiteri, Andrea Zedda.
Exiles and Ta’ Xbiex were the protagonists of an exciting duel on Saturday that saw the latter’s comeback just falling short. Exiles kept their opponents at arm’s length when they finished with Valentino Gallo fouled out in the last session.
Guillermo Molina’s team were principally boosted by a remarkable five-goal flurry in the middle sessions from the Italian player who must have earned the plaudits of his team’s fans.
All in all, it was a game of ups and downs for both teams with Exiles’ experience and opportunistic goals giving them the last laugh.
(7-2, 8-4, 4-3, 7-3)
Going into top gear in the first session, Birzebbuga breached Barracudas almost at every time of asking to obtain a 7-2 base against disappointing opponents.
By the halfway mark, it was already double figures for Birzebbuga as their lead was stretched to 15-6. Pierre Borg’s side continued to widen their advantage.
In the fourth quarter, Balazs Erdelyi netted his seventh goal as more goals sealed the scoreline for a mammoth 26-13 with the Hungarian’s scoring stints standing out.
M. Sladden, P. Borg 4, N. Cassar, B. Grech 3, D. Brguljan 4, M. Manara, D. Cutajar, B. Erdelyi 7, K. Tanti 1, G. Mannino, M. Curmi 3, D C. Borg, J. Sciberras 3, D. Farrugia 1.
I. Schembri, A. Piccone 1, A. Magri 2, P. Micallef, D. Ciantar, R. Sciortino 1, I. Gusarov 3, R. Latinovic 5, C. Bugeja, S. Apap 1, A. Mifsud, TJ Mifsud, L. Abela, S. Debono Grech, W. Ruggier.
Referees Neville Mercieca, Luca Bianco.
World Cup News
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Tuesday blasted as “insufficient” the apology given by...
Spain’s Women’s World Cup hero Olga Carmona paid tribute to her father on Monday...
Spain midfielder Jenni Hermoso defended Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales after he came...
Sunday’s World Cup final between England and Spain is the final act of a...