Adapted from The Times of Malta report by Alex Vella
– Neptunes 11
(1-5, 0-4, 1-0, 4-2)
The waterpolo Premier League championship trek in both divisions got off with Neptunes Emirates playing Exiles. The two sides were captained by the Lanzon brothers, Niki for Neptunes while Kayne marshaled Exiles.
Champions Neptunes looked in good shape as they got off their starting blocks to register a comfortable, if not emphatic, 11-6 victory over Exiles.
The Reds owed their win to a bright start which put them on velvet in the opening two sessions as they secured a 9-1 lead. After that Exiles plucked up courage and reacted well with Vojslav Cupic being their dangerman.
Neptunes, who fluffed several chances, may have also been discouraged by some strange decisions of the Italian referee Alessandro Sgarra.
However, that was no excuse for a somewhat colourless showing in the latter sessions, although Exiles are to be lauded for some spirited fare after the interval.
After going a goal down, Neptunes were soon in their stride notching five goals in succession to take a 5-1 lead into the second quarter. At this point, the absence of Michele Stellini did not have any adverse effect on the Reds who opened a 9-1 advantage at the half-way mark with Jordan Camilleri reaching his hat-trick.
However, they failed to add to their tally in the third session, wasting a number of chances through over-confidence and also fluffing a posse of extra-man sets as did their opponents at the other end.
Exiles were playing well at this stage and three goals in succession cut down the deficit to 9-4 while Neptunes continued with their trail of errors and blunt finishing.
The reliable Alexander Ciric showed his team-mates the way to goal to make it 10-4 before captain Lanzon netted his third for an 11-4 advantage.
But, two Exiles goals by Cupic and Portelli made it 11-6 at the end.
Exiles 6 Neptunes 11
(1-5, 0-4, 1-0, 4-2)
Exiles: I. Bugeja, J. Rizzo Naudi, S. Vassallo, D. Pace Lupi 1, R. Blary, N. Portelli 1, J. Spiteri Staines 1, V. Cupic 2, K. Grixti, P. Borg, S. Galea Pace, D. Borg, K. Lanzon 1.
Neptunes: A. Borg Cole, N. Lanzon 3, A. Sammut, K. Debattista, T. Agius 1, A. Ciric 1, S. Camilleri 1, J. Camilleri 3, G. Pace, S. Gravina, B. Lanzon, T. Molnar 2, C. Mercieca.
Refs: M. Dalli, A. Sgarra.