Sliema win it!Monday, September 13, 2010, 9:31
Marsascala complete the double
Sliema Mc Donalds beat champions Neptunes Emirates yesterday evening to take home the last honour of this season, the Knockout trophy with a 13-11 final score. Neptunes were aiming to cap last weekend’s league success with the double while Sliema sought revenge for that loss.
The game was a typical roller coaster ride, with a slow start and lots of turns of fate as the minutes passed by. Sliema were dominant in the second session, sending Neptunes in tilt, but the latter found the energy to react and even nosed ahead with a couple of minutes on the clock. But Sliema had the last laugh, sending their elated fans celebrating down to Sliema Pitch.
The first session had little to it, with both sides studying each other and taking shots from a distance, ending in a 1-1 draw and leaving both sets of supporters thirsty for more action. Neptunes had the better chances in this session, particularly through Molnar, but they squandered all of them.
The action materialised in the second session when Sliema upped a gear to take a 6-2 lead, leaving their frustrated opponents stunned in the water. Jerome Gabaretta was Sliema’s “uomo in piu”, striking at Gouder’s goal with clinical precision.
Sergio Afric knew that he needed to stifle Neptunes’ initiative to be successful in this game, and his men followed his plan to perfection, allowing little space for the Neptunes attackers and also picking up some important fouls along the way. This game plan took its toll on a number of Neptunes players, particularly Vujasinovic who is typically a calm and composed player but lost his temper on several occasions. Neptunes also didn’t capitalise on their man-up situations as well as Sliema did, and this was also a determining factor on the final result.
In the end of the second session and the beginning of the third session, the Neptunes revival was on, but it was the referees Balzan and De Meo who were the target of both sets of supporters and players for alleged errors they committed on both sides of the pool.
Both teams went into the final session with a 8-7 score in Sliema’s favour, but it was Neptunes who in the fourth session seemed to be heading for the elusive double when they forged 10-9 ahead with a couple of minutes left on the clock.
Marcoch’s men could not keep up the tempo with their opponents who were hungry for victory and following a Rath penalty and a golden opportunity missed by Pisani, the Blues knew that they were heading for their 25th Knockout trophy and their fourth in succession.
Although the game was very physical, both sets of players shook hands in the water after the final whistle, while a handful of Sliema supporters and Neptunes players traded some words while the latter were making their way to the showers. In a commendable gesture, Soler and Afric both shook hands with Neptunes captain Niki Lanzon after the presentation of the runner up trophy, and the rest of the Sliema team were seen shaking hands with their opponents after their celebrations on the pool deck.
Neptunes Emirates 11 – Sliema Mc Donalds 13
(1-1, 3-5, 3-2, 4-5)
Neptunes: N. Gouder, N. Lanzon 3, B. Lanzon, M. Stellini 2, D. Camilleri, V. Vujasinovic 1, S. Camilleri 2, J. Camilleri 1, B. Buhagiar, S. Gravina, I. Bugeja, T. Molnar 2, M. Pisani.
Sliema: R. Coleiro, J. Gabaretta 5, N. Lubrano, P. Privitera 1, M. Meli 1, J. Soler 2, M. Spiteri Staines, J. Brownrigg 1, C. Debono, A. Kunac 1, M. Rizzo, B. Rath 2, D. Abela.
In the second division Knockout final, Marascala Solid Base capped a memorable season when they clinched the double against Ta’ Xbiex Mermaids Paradise. The third session proved to be decisive and once again Marsascala’s Koralji was the team’s hero with four goals. Marco Manara’s team had managed to contain the fierce Marsascala attack during the first two session but his plan faltered in the third as the champions turned the game around.
Marsascala Solid Base 12 – Ta’ Xbiex Mermaids Paradise 8
Marsascala: R. Sciortino, JC Cutajar, B. Szabo, L. Grixti 1, M. Borg Spiteri 1, M. Koralji 4, J. Licari 2, J. Cremona 2, S. Micallef, T. Agius 1, D. Cassar 1, G. Pace, S. Farrugia
Ta Xbiex: N. Xuereb, S. Cachia, D. Caruana 1, A. Farrugia, L. Borg, C. Bugeja, J. Tabone, E. Bonello, D. Gabriel 3, A. Galea 1, I. Azzopardi 1, M. Spiteri, T. Gyrovath 2