Neptunes assert dominance with third straight league victory

Sunday, September 9, 2012, 11:15

Sliema 6 – Neptunes 9
(1-2, 0-3, 3-3, 2-1)

Neptunes Emirates claimed their second successive double when they dominated proceedings in the 4th game of the Premier Division final to beat Sliema Mc Donalds 9-6 and win the Championship. This was also their third successive league title and their 21st overall.

Neptunes had dictated matters in the first two games of this final series, but Sliema were coming from a strong winning performance in game 3. The Blues were on a high given their latest win and also because Neptunes had Michele Stellini suspended, with his place being taken by the alternating Alexander Ciric and Clint Mercieca.

The reigning champions showed their intentions from the first whistle, building a 2-0 advantage with two close range shots by Ciric and Mercieca while Mark Meli pulled one back with 9 seconds left in the first session. The influential Jerome Gabarretta had already picked up two fouls after the first six minutes with Neptunes’ Sean Gravina following suit.

In the second session Neptunes pulled away particularly thanks to their better physical conditioning and their strong defending. Steven Camilleri scored following a Ferenc Salamon penalty foul and a blunder in the Sliema defence followed by a Tamas Molnar assist regaled Camilleri with an easy chance in front of Istvan Gergely’s goal to make it 4-1 for Neptunes. Neptunes kept pressing hard, forcing their opponents to shoot form outside the five metre zone, with Molnar making it 5-1 for the Balluta side from a man up situation.

Neptunes Emirates players and staff celebrating the 2012 league victory

Neptunes Emirates players and staff celebrating the 2012 league victory

Sliema coach Sergio Afric applied more stringent press in the second half to try and halt the Neptunes assault. The Reds scored another two with a harba by captain Niki Lanzon and another from the unstoppable Molnar with a superb backhander to bring the score to 7-1. Afric had to call a timeout to pep up his players. Salamon responded to bring Sliema to within 5 goals of their opponents but Molnar made it 8-2 a few seconds later. Sliema kept fighting and as Neptunes let down their guard for a while, they punished them with two successive goals from John Brownrigg and Meli to send both teams into the last session with an 8-4 scoreline in favour of Neptunes.

In the final eight minutes Sliema were showing signs of life as John Soler scored his first goal to make it 8-5, with the Neptunes clan looking nervous as Sliema’s last three goals went unresponded. Sliema must be commended for their trademark fighting spirit which demonstrates itself even during the toughest moments, but with Paul Privitera picking up his third foul and Molnar scoring his fourth goal of the night, it was impossible for Sliema to come back. With two minutes to go and both teams stretched across the pool, Brownrigg made it 9-6 but Neptunes managed the advantage till the final whistle to take the Championship home. A beaming Niki Lanzon lifted the coveted trophy for the third consecutive year as celebrations then continued in Balluta Bay.


Sliema: I. Gergely, J. Gabarretta, N. Lubrano, P. Privitera, M. Meli 2, J. Soler 1, D. Paolella, J. Brownrigg 2, C. Debono, F. Salomon 1, J. Falzon, M. Spiteri Staines, C. Cluett.

Neptunes: I. Bugeja, N. Lanzon 1, E. Aquilina, B. Lanzon, Z. Mizzi, A. Ciric 1, S. Camilleri 2, J. Camilleri, G. Pace, S. Gravina, R. Sciortino, T. Molnar 4, C. Mercieca 1.

Refs: M. Angileri, M. Savarese.


  1. The Day After says:

    Apparentely neptunes have a couple of problems that need resolving quick. One is that stevie has not yet extended his contract that expires this year. and two is that cocci has been in talks with sliema for quite a while now


    Ghadni fis-sakra Reply:

    The Day after, if Neptunes have problems they need to solve, imagine how much greater the problems of some other clubs are!


    JD Reply:

    Well Sliema have some problems to resolve too … Privitera and Clint are retiring. They also need to see how Ryan will be remotivated after being discarded this season and not even being on the bench on Saturday. 

    Re Stevie I cannot see him playing for any other club in Malta other than Neptunes. And I can understand it if Cocci wants to move since he did not play much this season. But then again why go back to Sliema?


    dudu Reply:

    I think it is Sliema who have problems to solve. First they must overcome the current crisis and then the emergence of San Giljan and Sirens who threaten to relegate the Blues to fourth place. Yet their supporters scream “Boo in-Neptunes, boo in-Neptunes…xejn” How’s that for sheer puerile mentality. After all they have always been like that.


    waterpolo youth Reply:

    Stevie will never leave neptunes!


    h20polo Reply:

    rumour has it that Cocci is in talks with exiles and Stevie an Neptunes havent yet come to an agreement. 


    Il-foxxna ta' Nettuno Reply:

    For Cocci Exiles will have to pay if they want him as he is officially a Neptunes player now. I wonder whether Neptunes want to let him go. As for Stevie……keep on hoping!

  2. Waterpolo observer says:

    I think that Neptunes deserved the league. No doubt about it.

    As for Sliema in my opinion the players are not to blame as they gave their 100%.
    The blame for Sliema’s failure in this very important 100th season lies fairly and squarely on their administration:

    1) The choice of a foreign goalkeeper was wrong – this resulted in a foreigner less up front and also Ryan Coleiro dejected in the stands yesterday evening.

    2) Clint Debono’s removal from captain, after so many years of service, was another big mistake for the team dynamics. Soler in the end did not lift neither of the important cups.

    3) Afric – after last season he had to go. Sliema supporters wanted him to go. A new coach was needed to inject a new lease of life into Sliema. His tactics were upstages by Markoch

    4) There seemed to be a lot of focus on organising many events around the centenary year with not enough focus on the players and the team. The feel good factor of the 100th year was never enough to give the needed push to the players to perform.

    5) The last game against Sirens was a big blow for Sliema. They underestimated their opponents and had to play the seminfinals as a result of that. Tensions in the team after that game never seemed to be solved 100%.


  3. dudu says:

    Michele, ferhulek iz-zijiet tal-kampjonat? Jew ghad ma hafrulekx ta meta faqqghajtilhom sitta?!


  4. Mary C says:

    Tas-Sliema ilhom stagun shih isaqsu Fejn hu l-Bonell? Taf fejn qieghed il Bonell? jiccelbra il-kampjonat li tas-Sliema tant riedu jirbhu, ghat tielet sena in fila, by the way!!


    dudu Reply:

    L-izjed kampjonat li nizel ghasel ghal Bonell!! U kif jghid ‘old boy’ taghna Freddie Portelli ‘IL-KBIR GHADU GEJ”


  5. Veteran says:

    Centenary celebrations:
    Sliema proposes Neptunes disposes OR BETTER STILL Afric proposes Markoch disposes,


  6. Red Alert says:

    Would recommed that Sliema ASC set up a think tank for their 2nd centenary celebrations. Based on this year’s performance, it would appear they could do with the lead-in time.


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