Neptunes 14 – Sirens 13
(3-3, 6-4, 3-3, 2-3)
Our lads again fended off another stiff challenge this time posed by Sirens in a match which confirmed that the team has to overcome the arduous situation when all opponents produce extra impetus to topple us off our perch.
Indeed, it is more difficult to stay at the top than reaching the summit, and the character shown by our players in such circumstances reflects the qualities they are made of.
We again had to grapple with a situation that is not so easy to face as our coach, Sergey Markoch, had to shuffle his units to fill in the role in the centre since we again had to play without Tamas Molnar, still serving his two-week suspension.
Moreover, a string of exclusions against us after some uncompromising referees’ decisions tended to rip through our top order players and eventually we had to survive without Niki Lanzon and Michele Stellini, both being red-carded for passing remarks.
However, the steadying influence of four-goal Peter Biros and Steve Camilleri, who marked Christian Presciutti most of the time besides scoring a hat-trick, as well as the stout defending of Jordan Camilleri, kept the team buoyant against opponents who found it difficult to beat our man-down deployment.
Except twice in the early stages we were never in arrears, eventually taking a three-goal advantage which was once extended to four in the third session.
We paid the price of some missed extra-man chances at crucial moments in the third session, and with our opponents twice profiting from attacker fouls from our players, they scored twice to make it 12-10 with one session left. Then we survived a couple of man-down sets.
After the lead had been reduced to 12-11 we were relieved to score two vital goals through Timmy Agius and the hard-working Clint Mercieca. With the score 14-11 in our favour time ran out for Sirens as we opted to maximise on our possession time especially after the northerners had reduced the deficit to one goal.
Neptunes: A. Borg Cole, N. Lanzon 2, M. Lanzon, M. Stellini 2, T. Agius 1, G. Mizzi, S. Camilleri 3, J. Camilleri, A. Zarb Cousin, P. Biros 4, B. Muscat, M. Cacici, C. Mercieca 2
Sirens: N. Grixti, Z. Mizzi, C, Presciutti 2, G. Mertens, M. Grech 1, C. Kiss 4, M. Caruana, D. Cutajar 1, J. Napier, E. Aquilina 4, L. Caruana, A. Sammut 1, M. Pisani
Referees: P. Balzan, A. Rovida