Adapted from the Times of Malta report by Alex Vella at the National Pool
Neptunes Emirates won back the President’s Cup to make it their seventh success in this charity match.
They beat rivals Sliema in clear fashion in a contest which they conducted expertly, primarily thanks to a solid platform at the back anchored by an excellent Alan Borg Cole and also to their superior guns, personified by the usual Steve Camilleri, captain Niki Lanzon and Clint Mercieca.
Both teams agreed to make use of one foreigner, with Sliema parading Samir Barac and Neptunes again including Aleksandar Ciric.
The first session ended all square on 3-3 with the lead alternating.
It was balanced all the way with the centre approaches being crowded. With Jordan Camilleri on two personal faults early on, the Reds were forced to use him sparingly.
In the second session, Steve Camilleri and Mercieca each netted their second goal for a 5-3 lead for the Reds.
Edward Aquilina also scored a brace to reduce the gap before Lanzon scored a spectacular goal from the centre for a 6-4 advantage in Neptunes’ favour before ends were changed.
It was the turn of Lanzon to be caught on two expulsions but the Blues fluffed their fourth consecutive man-up advantage.
The Reds’ resources were being stretched.
A contested penalty proved to be a salvo for Neptunes as Steve Camilleri reached his hat-trick for a 7-4 Neptunes lead with one session to go.
To the Balluta Bay outfit’s credit, their rearguard dealt very well with Sliema’s otherwise hesitant efforts on extra-man sets. Two goals at each end made it 8-5 after which Sliema went for more stringent press as the seconds ticked away.
With just over two minutes left, Lanzon made it 9-5 to drain Sliema’s hopes of an unlikely recovery.
Neptunes had proved too strong for the Blues.
At the end of the match, Tessie Bonello, from the President’s office, presented the cup to Neptunes captain Niki Lanzon.
- Sliema 5
(3-3, 3-1, 1-0, 2-1)
Neptunes: A. Borg Cole, N. Lanzon 2, M. Lanzon, M. Stellini 1, A. Sammut, A. Ciric 1, S. Camilleri 3, J. Camilleri, G. Pace, S. Gravina, B. Lanzon, T. Agius, C. Mercieca 2.
Sliema: R. Coleiro, J. Gabaretta, N. Lubrano, T. Sullivan, M. Meli, J. Soler, D. Paolella, E. Aquilina 2, J. Brownrigg 1, S. Barac 2, M. Spiteri Staines, C. Cluett, D. Abela.
Referees: P. Balzan, M. Angileri.