San Ġiljan retained the winter title, their third in this competition, when yesterday they beat Sliema 8-6 in a very tight contest which was resolved in the last session.
In those latter stages of the match, the Saints rediscovered their bearing to keep their fighting opponents at bay.
The Blues had fought gallantly to twice recover from early two-goal deficits in a hard-fought duel which had 17 expulsions, the Saints netting once from ten man-ups and Sliema doing likewise from seven similar occasions.
There was little in it even if San Ġiljan had a better start when leading 3-1 and 4-2 in the opening two quarters. Sliema fought back to draw level at 4-4 in the third session and 5-5 midway through the final quarter.
It was then that the team guided by Marko Orlovic managed to break their opponents’ resistance with two goals from Paul Fava and another from Matthew Zammit who completed a hat-trick.
The Saints had Ben Plumpton out on three personal faults late in the second session but managed to keep their ship afloat.
Sliema also suffered the definite expulsion of Kai Dowling in the second quarter but despite the hat-trick of Jerome Gabarretta they had to throw in the towel in those last eight minutes.
In the other matches the status quo in terms of final placings was maintained when Sirens, inspired by the promising Jacob Sciberras, thrashed Exiles 12-2 and Neptunes beat Valletta 9-7.
(0-1, 6-0, 3-1, 3-0)
Sirens: N. Grixti, N. Sciberras, J. Sciberras 5; M. Grech 1, J. Zerafa Gregory 1, J. Ciantar, D. Cutajar 2, J. Napier 1, J. Brownrigg 1, L. Caruana 1, O. Gauci, C. Mercieca.
Exiles: N. Castillo, J. Rizzo Naudi 1, J. Bajada, M. Stellini 1, T. Sullivan, S. Xerri De Carro, D. Borg Millo, K. Grixti, N. Paris, A. Bianchi, A. Magri, L. Felice, S. Galea Pace.
Referees: R. Spiteri, S. Licari.
(2-1, 3-3, 1-1, 3-2)
Neptunes: A. Borg Cole, N. Lanzon 1, K. Erdogan, J. Culic, T. Agius 2, M. Tabone, S. Gravina 1, J. Camilleri 2, J. Abela 2, M. Zammit 1, M. Martellacci, M. Azzopardi, I. Bugeja.
Valletta: R. Sciortino, J.S. Staines, A. Agius 1, M. Rizzo, M. Fenech, R. Mock, D. Paolella 2, M. Cordina 2, D. Fenech, K. Galea 2, O. Zammit, F. Buhagiar.
Referees: M. Angileri, A. De Raffaele.
San Ġiljan 8
(3-1, 1-1, 0-2, 4-2)
San Ġiljan: J. Tanti, P. Borg 1, A. Galea, B. Grech, D. Zammit, M. Zammit 3, B. Plumpton 1, J. Galea, T. Said, A. Cousin, B. Fava 2, D. Zammit 1, T. Micallef.
Sliema: R. Coleiro, J. Gabarretta 3, E. Aquilina, C. Cluett, M. Meli 1, K. Dowling, M.S. Staines 2, M. Mifsud, A. Mifsud, A. Attard, Z. Mizzi, N. Bugelli, Z. Sciberras.
Referees: M. Dalli, P. Balzan.
1. San Ġiljan; 2. Sliema; 3. Neptunes; 4. Valletta; 5. Sirens; 6. Exiles.
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