Saints beat Neptunes in the 2023 final
San Ġiljan have made it a clean sweep of five honours in a season – an unprecedented feat in the local game as they have now added the BOV Premier Division to the Knock-Out, President’s Cup, Winter League, and Enemed Cup won previously throughout a memorable season for the Saints.
They also made a second consecutive double, the third double in four years, and a fifth in nine years. San Ġiljan have been such a dominant force in the local waterpolo scene in the late years of the new millennium.
That in a nutshell was the main talking point after Monday’s success over the Balluta Bay team which earned San Ġiljan their 13th league crown in their history.
The crunch match in the season’s plum competition again went their way to win the Play-off series 2-0. They summoned all the adrenaline in their system to annihilate their fierce opponents.
For Neptunes, it was yet another episode of the series ‘so near and yet so far’.
The match was watched by the biggest crowd of the season.
Alan Borg Cole’s goal was breached after three minutes when Marko Jokovic broke the deadlock.
Neptunes breached the opponents’ fort on their first man-up situation with Stevie Camilleri. Likewise, Jake Bonavia made it 2-1 with Jordan Camilleri in the man-down cage.
After Aleksandar Ivovic missed a double man-up set, Filip Filipovic managed to hit the scoresheet to level matters at the end of the first session.
San Ġiljan lifted off strongly in the second session taking a 4-2 lead through Andreas Galea’s brace. Neptunes replied with a potent shot from Sam Gialanzè before Jake Muscat to level matters.
But San Ġiljan restored their two-goal cushion courtesy of the deadly Ben Plumpton who made it 6-4, a lead that was maintained until the end of the second session.
The same pattern followed in the third session with the Saints stretching their lead by two further goals as Aaron Younger emulated his teammates with quick-fire brace to leave the Reds stunned.
Jokovic’s flick came at a crucial moment in the fourth session after Filipovic had pulled a goal back, which could have given the Reds impetus to claw back. Instead, Plumpton inflicted more misery on Neptunes to make it 10-5. A fantastic backhand by Nikolai Zammit started the Saints’ celebrations in the stands. Alec Fenech tried to make the final scoreline look more respectable. But there was no reprieve as Plumpton reached his poker before Muscat made it final 13-7.
Birżebbuġa take first game in Division One series
Earlier, Birżebbuġa took sweet revenge over rivals Marsaxlokk to lay the marker in the First Division Play-off final.
For a team that slumped to a surprising defeat in the KO Final at the hands of the same opponents, Birżebbuġa’s resurgence is something to be commended. Their ‘revenge’ yesterday had the stamp of their team spirit.
Their waterpolo was indicative of the spirit they can summon when the going was tough after going down 3-0 in the first session as Marsaxlokk were off to a meteoric start.
Pierre Borg’s team changed gears in the second quarter as they shifted to a tighter press. Within three minutes, goals from Giuseppe Mannino, Keith Tanti, and Darko Brguljan levelled matters before the impressive Brguljan scored a quick-fire hat-trick to make it 7-3 to Birżebbuġa.
The transformation in the Birżebbuġa was kept up by Mannino reached his hat trick at the start of the third session, to open up a 9-4 lead.
Birżebbuġa managed to administer their advantage in the fourth session, to finish 9-6 winners amid the satisfaction of their supporters.
SAN ĠILJAN 13
(2-2, 4-2, 2-0, 5-3)
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 DeRaffaele.
(0-3, 5-0, 3-1, 2-0
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 2, M. Curmi, C.D. Borg, J. Sciberras, D. Farrugia.
MARSAXLOKK M. Farrugia, M. Lanzon, B. Zammit, M. 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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