by Alex Vella
Neptunes 20 – San Ġiljan 11
(4-2, 6-1, 6-3, 4-5)
This St Julian’s Bay derby between Neptunes Emirates and San Ġiljan was rendered useless in view of the league format and the table positions which have been practically defined for the purposes of the play-offs, starting on August 26.
The outcome was a prestige-tagged win for our boys which has helped them maintain a clean sheet. San Giljan’s defeat may yet cost them the runner-up place which they have occupied for several weeks. However, that matters little for the Saints since they will anyway meet the Blues in the semi-final play-offs.
Given the way the new-look competition developed this year, which promotes four out of five teams to start the real contest in the play-offs, the futility of the league-cum-knockout experiment has surfaced and rendered a number of matches as mere formalities.
In any case, Neptunes underlined their resolve to keep charging away relentlessly. It is pertinent to point out that if the previous years’ system prevailed we would have already uncorked the champagne bottles…!
In this match we took up the driving seat from the very beginning and controlled the proceedings almost in a leisurely way to beat our neighbours more than comfortably.
By the halfway mark we were 10-3 ahead and then 16-6 by the end of the penultimate session. Some of the conversions –Tamas Molnar netted a massive eight goals – were of exquisite stuff.
Apart from the usual humdingers from Stevie Camilleri and the familiar cheeky goals from Edward Aquilina and Matthew Pisani, the great goal-poacher Molnar and Mr Supremo, Valdimir Gojkovic each scored a goal of vintage quality.
As is normal for our team in the latter stages of the game, tailenders came on for some of the established faces, with the Reds being able to cruise home for a worthless 20-11 victory which only had statistics and prestige as its raison d’etre.
Neptunes: I. Bugeja, N. Lanzon 1, E. Aquilina 1, M. Stellini 3, J. Camilleri, K. Debattista, S. Camilleri 4, V. Gojkovic 2, B. Lanzon, S. Gravina, R. Sciortino, T. Molnar 8, M. Pisani 1.
San Ġiljan: D. Camilleri, J.C. Cutajar, N. Sutic 4, K. Galea 1, F. Trajkovic 4, K. Dowling, L. Grixti 1, A. Bianchi 1, M. Borg Spiteri, C. Gialanze, P. Fava, A. Galea, K. Schembri.
Referees: M. Dalli, D. Di Martire.