Adapted from The Times report
Neptunes 13 – Exiles 11
(4-2, 3-4, 4-2, 2-3)
Without setting any bushes ablaze, Neptunes Emirates were good enough to beat Exiles by a two-goal margin, a result which put the Balluta Bay team temporarily at the top of the standings with Sliema having a game against Sirens to recoup.
With Sergey Markoch making more use of his middle order units, except for a couple of players, the Reds did not quite pick efficiently except for five-goal Steve Camilleri, a solid Alexandar Ciric and the hard-working Niki Lanzon.
Exiles fought as well as they could and managed to put up some resistance despite the scoreline which in the latter sessions showed a discreet advantage for Neptunes.
Exiles had a flying start as they took a 2-0 lead. However, the Reds did not take long to respond when scoring four in quick succession for a 4-2 first-session lead.
After extending that advantage by another goal, Neptunes went into pause mode while Exiles generated some steam to level matters on 5-5.
The Reds extended their lead to 7-5 with their opponents pulling a goal back before the change of ends. Aljosa Kunac, of Exiles, was on two faults at this point.
Aurelien Cousin’s team were putting an effective cage around Tamas Molnar while ensuring swift marking on the opposing five and six outside positions.
Ryan Sciortino replaced Ian Bugeja in the Neptunes goal after the second restart and the champions held sway to eke out a 4-2 advantage for an overall 11-8 lead with the last quarter to go.
Steve Camilleri reached his fifth goal, Ciric eventually scored three with Michele Stellini and Molnar inserting their names in the scorers’ list. Kunac and Julian Rizzo Naudi netted Exiles’ goals.
The last session had an initial tame imprint about it as the Reds took a 13-8 advantage. However, three goals in succession from Exiles, one of which by the surviving Kunac, somewhat revived the final exchanges even if the game petered out to an unimpressive victory for Neptunes.
Neptunes: I. Bugeja, N. Lanzon 2, E. Aquilina, M. Stellini 1, Z. Mizzi, A. Ciric 3, S. Camilleri 5, J. Camilleri 1, B. Lanzon, S. Gravina, R. Sciortino, T. Molnar 1, C. Mercieca.
Exiles: A. Borg Cole, J. Rizzo Naudi 1, K. Rizzo Naudi, D. Pace Lupi, T. Sullivan 2, S. Vassallo 1, J. Spiteri Staines, K. Grixti, M. Paris, P. Borg, A. Kunac 3, M. Toth 2, K. Lanzon 2.
Refs: M. Angileri, D. De Meo.