San Ġiljan Salini Resort profited from Sliema Betsson’s slip against Sirens Ritter Sport in yesterday’s second match to go top of the table after an emphatic 19-10 victory over Exiles Jet Freight.
The result put them on top of the table one point ahead of Sliema and two more than Neptunes who have today’s game against Valletta in hand.
The champions again had all their units available and were not expected to falter against the bottom-placed side who are still looking for their first points of the season.
Exiles, who were without Sean Gravina, fought well to limit the deficit to just two goals by the halfway mark.
But then the Saints stepped up a gear and started stretching their advantage to pull well clear of their brittle opponents despite using their less-experienced players at times simultaneously.
Their scoring heavyweights, led by six-goal Dino Zammit, left Exiles unable to respond except sporadically. At the end of the day, the Saints’ margin of victory reflected the gap in class between the sides
In the earlier match, an unyielding Sirens managed to deny title contenders Sliema maximum points and a possible joint top position in the standings after the contest ended on eight goals apiece.
Just when it looked as if the incisive Edward Aquilina, scorer of a hat-trick, would resolve the issue in Sliema’s favour when he netted his last goal with 110 seconds left, Sirens’ Sergi Mora equalised with an accurate shot from 10 metres only 14 seconds from the end.
It was no less than the northerners deserved as they kept chasing the Blues throughout.
Sliema had Mark Meli missing for the third consecutive game and this time also Timmy Sullivan but these absences were no excuse for their blunt finishing.
Sirens’ youngsters, led by Mora and Zach Mizzi, scorers of three and two goals respectively, played a diligent game and once in the third session nosed 5-4 in front.
Thereafter it was cat and mouse as Sliema kept edging ahead only to concede repeated equalisers until that last gasp beauty from Mora.
In the lower division match, Marsaxlokk Fischer registered their second league victory over champions Marsascala Nutrition Empire to extend their lead at the summit of the standings to six points.
After the introduction of Ivan Vuksanovic and the hard-working Maltese-American Brian Buhagiar, Marsaxlokk were immeasurably strengthened. Vuksanovic proved his worth with six goals, with the other free-scoring centre Claudio Spiteri Debarro scoring three.
Their lead constantly alternated between three and four goals for a final scoreline of 12-8.
(2-0, 3-3, 3-1, 4-4)
Marsaxlokk: D. Abela, C. Spiteri Debarro 3, L. Calleja, K. Galea, C. Gialanze, C. Bugeja, S. Meli 2, I. Vuksanovic 6, R. Buhagiar 1, R. Scerri, K. Navarro, G. Busuttil, A. Xuereb.
Marsascala: K. Schembri, J.C. Cutajar 1, J. Busuttil 1, C. Bonello 1, J. Bajada, L. Grixti, G. Kovacs 1, J. Cremona 1, S. Micallef 1, M. Pace 1, D. Cassar 1, O. Zammit, B. Dougall.
Referees: Peter Balzan, Alessandro Roberti.
San Ġiljan 19
(5-3, 3-3, 5-2, 6-2)
San Ġiljan: J. Sammut, P. Borg 2, A. Galea 1, B. Vapenski 3, J. Galea 1, M. Zammit, K. Galea, C. Mercieca 3, B. Plumpton, A. Cousin 3, P. Fava, D. Zammit 6, D. Camilleri.
Exiles: I.Bugeja, J. Rizzo Naudi 3, S. Vassallo 1, D. Pace Lupi 1, D. Borg Millo 1, E. Gravina, L. Felice, K. Griscti 1, N. Paris, A. Bianchi 1, G. Ciappara, M. Vukicevic 2, K. Lanzon.
Referees: Alex De Raffaele, Alessandro Roberti.
(0-1, 4-3, 1-2, 3-2)
Sirens: N. Grixti, Z. Mizzi 2, S. Mora 3, G. Pace 1, M. Grech 2, I. Riolo, M. Balucci, D. Cutajar, J. Napier, J. Sciberras, L. Caruana, N. Farrugia, J. Cremona.
Sliema: R. Coleiro, J. Gabarretta, E. Aquilina 3, C. Cluett, K. Dowling 1, J. Soler 1, M. Fenech, J. Gambin, J. Brownrigg, A. Attard 1, M. Cuk 2, N. Bugelli, Z. Sciberras.
Referees: Massimo Angilleri, Michele Minelli.
First Division: 18.15 Ta’ Xbiex Amigos vs Otters Nivea.
Premier Division: 19.30 Neptunes Gri-maldi vs Valletta McDonald’s.
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