Our take-off against Valletta as the second round got off to a start was not as serene as our ardent supporters would have hoped for. Some hiccups from our lads, coupled by the non-appearance of Steve Camilleri, who was not risked throughout the whole match due to a shoulder injury he incurred against San Giljan three days before, accounted for a 4-2 first session deficit.
However, that wobbly beginning was righted in the second session, with our units realising that the scoreline was a wake-up call for them. Michele Stellini who was also absent for most of the first quarter, came in to clip the deficit to 4-3, before the consistent Clint Mercieca and the wily Tamas Molnar added two more to complement the two strikes in the first session by Peter Biros and Jordan Camilleri. With Michael Rizzo red-carded and Charlie Zammit out on three fouls in the third session, Valletta were completely outwitted.
We were now stretching our opponents into committing more exclusion fouls, while our infringements remained at only a single expulsion throughout the game. We managed to convert 50% of the eight expulsions our opponents incurred, two of which came from the younger Camilleri from the number two position of man-up set play. Jordan completed a poker to make up for his brother’s absence, while Timmy Agius at last broke his six-match duck. Molnar kept up his goal-per-match streak, as did captain Niki Lanzon (one goal) and Michele Stellini (two). Clint Mercieca scored again to have just one blank while Biros also maintained his scoring tempo in every match he played.
Valletta 5 – Neptunes 11
(4-2, 0-3, 1-3, 0-3)
Valletta: R. Sciortino, R. Mock, J. Spiteri Staines, M. Korolija 2, N. Bonello Ghio, S.Cachia, D. Abela, C. Zammit 1, C. Debono, R. Scerri, D. Paolella, D. Filipovic 1, M.Rizzo 1
Neptunes: A. Borg Cole, N. Lanzon 1, M. Lanzon, M. Stellini 2, T. Agius 1, M. Zammit, S. Camilleri, J. Camilleri 4, A. Zarb Cousin, P. Biros 1, B. Muscat, T.Molnar 1, C. Mercieca 1
Referees: M. Dalli, S. Scollo