Updated: Sluggish Neptunes win regular season. Sirens deny Sliema glory

Saturday, August 18, 2012, 21:00

In what was perhaps the most exciting group of Premier League matches this season, Neptunes Emirates surprisingly  finished the regular season at the top of the table with a marginal 13-11 victory over neighbours Exiles Ferretti. This win put the pressure on Sliema McDonalds who could have pipped Neptunes in their final game against Sirens Ritter Sport but the St.Paul’s Bay outfit sprung one of the biggest upsets this season as they imposed stringent defensive tactics to beat Sliema 11-8.

Sliema will now face San Giljan in a best out of three games semifinal playoff series to determine who will face Neptunes in the final which will be played on a best out of five games basis.

Neptunes Emirates failed to impress in their outing against Exiles as the champions lacked consistency and cohesion while their opponents put up a spirited fight ably led by Kunac and Toth. Exiles set the ball rolling in the first session with 2 successive goals but their lead was shortlived as the Reds hit the back of the net 4 times in succession to end the first session 4-2 in Neptunes favour. In the second session Exiles leveled the game at 5-5 as Neptunes struggled to find continuity but Neptunes managed to lead at half time with a 7-6 score.

In the second half, Neptunes dictated matters for a while and at one time built a healthy 13-8 lead, but Exiles fought back to net three goals in a row to stun Neptunes who had grown complacent. But the Balluta side held on for the final minutes to win the game 13-11.

Neptunes 13 - Exiles 11
(4-2, 3-4, 4-2, 2-3)

Neptunes: I. Bugeja, N. Lanzon 2, E. Aquilina, M. Stellini 1, Z. Mizzi, A. Ciric 3, S. Camilleri 5, J. Camilleri 1, B. Lanzon, S. Gravina, R. Sciortino, T. Molnar 1, C. Mercieca.

Exiles: A. Borg Cole, J. Rizzo Naudi 1, K. Rizzo Naudi, D. Pace Lupi, T. Sullivan 2, S. Vassallo 1, J. Spiteri Staines, K. Grixti, M. Paris, P. Borg, A. Kunac 3, M. Toth 2, K. Lanzon 2.

Refs: M. Angileri, D. De Meo.


Sliema faltered at the last hurdle for a direct passage to the final as they came a cropper against a determined Sirens outfit who were winning their second game in four matches against Sliema.

Sliema started well enough with a three goal opening but when Sirens operated their press, as usual Sliema found difficulty in prising open their opponents’ defence.

This coupled with Sliema’s woeful man up tally. A mere two goals from ten expulsions helped Sirens’ cause no end with Sliema failing miserably in the last part of the match.

Sirens are to be commended for their honest approach to the game and they fully exploited Sliema’s hesitation in front of goal. After Sliema’s opening salvo, Sirens had drawn back to a single goal deficit after the first period and then overturned the score till the interval as they led 7-5.

Sliema were more cautious after the break and eked out a double score to put both sides on even terms at 7-7 when the last session began.

Sliema were also in front but Sirens quickly equalised. Then after two more Sliema misses with a player more in the water, Sirens struck the mortal blows to Sliema’s aspirations as they forged in front and then tore through the depleted Sliema defence twice more to deal the killer shots.

Arpad Babay found the back of the Sliema net five times with Dino Zammit claiming a hat trick. Ferenc Salamon also netted three goals for Sliema who now meet San Giljan next Wednesday in a best-of three tussle to see who will advance to the final against Neptunes.

Sliema 8 – Sirens 11
(4-3, 1-4, 2-0, 1-4) 

Sliema: I. Gergely, J. Gabarretta 2, N. Lubrano, P. Privitera 1, M. Meli, J. Soler 2, D. Paolella, J. Brownrigg, C. Debono, F. Salamon 3, C. Cluett, Spiteri Staines, R. Coleiro

Sirens: A. Grech, A. Attard, A. Sammut, P. Micallef , A. Babay 5, C. Kiss 1, J.Borg, D. Cutajar 2, L. Caruana, C. Zammit, M. Grech, D. Zammit 3, M. Grech

Referees: I. Sciriha, D De Meo

PREMIER DIVISION Final Classification (before Play-Offs)

Team P W D L F K Diff Pts
Neptunes Emirates 8 5 1 2 109 84 25 21
Sliema McDonalds 8 5 1 2 81 66 15 19
San Giljan Giuseppe’s 8 4 1 3 93 91 2 15
Sirens Ritter Sport 8 3 1 4 89 96 -7 11
Exiles Ferretti 8 0 2 6 73 108 -35 2

Marsascala 17 - Otters 20
(3-4, 4-8, 5-3, 5-5)

Marsascala : B. Muscat, G. Hegedus 4, M. Pace, K. Schembri, J. Kayes 7, L. Grixti 1, K. Navarro, J. Cremona, S. Micallef 1, R. Scerri 3, D. Cassar 1, M. Fenech, I. Borg.

Otters : A. Cachia, G. Attard, G. Zammit, D. Angyal 3, S. Dimech, M. Balatoni 7, J. Paris 5, D.Schembri, E. Farrugia, K. Debattista 1, K. Martin, K. Scicluna 1, K. Grima Scott 3.

Refs: R. Spiteri, M. Dalli.

DIVISION 1 Final Classification (before Play-Offs)

Team P W D L F K Diff Pts
Marsascala MOR€ 9 7 0 2 128 96 32 26
Valletta Sterling 9 6 0 3 120 111 9 20
Otters Nivea 9 3 0 6 111 119 -9 12
Ta’ Xbiex Amigos 9 2 0 7 100 132 -32 7


  1. Sirens Boy says:

    It is true that Jonathan Valletta spent only a year in Italy but he played at a time when the best players in the world played in every club in Italy, as opposed to today where only Pro Recco can afford to buy the best. And this won’t be the case next year as the Recco president has said that he is no longer going to finance the club. Italian teams aren’t engaging the best foreigners nowadays but rather the cheaper ones. Jonathan is the best player ever produced by maltese waterpolo by a mile. He stood out in an era where there were many great players – Marco Manara, Dirk and Kurt Dowling, Joe Caruana Dingli, Sandro Cosby , Charlie Zammit, John Paris, Dorian Pisani, Paul Privitera and many others. I doubt if any of the present crop of players would get close to playing in the national team of 15 years ago when these players were at their peak


    FACT not FICTION Reply:

    The italian league boasts a number of top players. besides the full squad of the italian team there are also gocic, filipovic, nikic, udovicic, zlokovic, ivovic, sefik, draskovic, jokic,janovic brothers, petkovic,paskovic, buric, azevedo, powers, varellas, smith,molina, espanyol, minguell, perez, perrone etc etc etc etc that played over the four years stevie’s been playing there so please before you decide to run your mouth get your facts rights and dont let your jealousy blind you.


    RM Reply:

    There is no question that Valletta was a great player but Stevie is in a class of his own . the success he’s had abroad is proof of this. In the past 4 seasons he’s played professionally abroad he has always been amongst the top performing players and his team has always ranked well even reaching the league semifinals . he also manages  to outstand locally and outshine not just the maltese but also the foreigners. At just 25 Stevie has 4 local leagues, 2 player of the years and is considered one of the country’s top athletes. Valletta had a 6 month stint in italy and at 25 was yet to get off the mark locally in terms of team and individual honours. Regarding the level of the league i think your comment has no foundation given that the game has changed so much. although the local league had so many great players as you put it the national team record at the time was very poor . at the time players were rewarded with a ‘coke and pizza’ after the game whereas today they sign contracts that are respected. the game has evolved and is now played on a semi professional basis whereas before it was more of a hobby. the game now is alot more physically demanding so players are forced to train longer hours and over longer periods whereas before it was enough to start preseason a couple of months before the start of the league now teams start preparing a couple of months after the end of the league . clubs invest a small fortune each year to get foreign coaches for both the senior team and junior teams as well as top foreign players. they also send 2/3 youth players each year abroad to train abroad. so i repeat your comment is utter and complete non sense


    Waterpolo fan Reply:

    I am a water polo fan, slightly inclined to support Exiles. I agree with both the Stevie and Jonathan is/was an excellent player. Still, I think that there were many players who made an excellent grade in the past, including goalkeeper Joe Caruana Dingli. At the moment there are many players rising to the grade and plenty of enthusiasm. It is comments like this (Sirens Fan) that will deter that enthusiasm and determination of our present young and adult players. Did you win the league because Valletta was in the team or was it because there was a equal contribution from players like Montfort, Caruana Dingli, Pawlu Privitera and the other parts of the team who contributed to the success of the club. Guys, lets look at the present and towards the future, not embed in the past. Waterpolo has evolved into a fast and furious game, and the commitment needed to uphold the level is huge.


  2. Gunner Wenger says:

    Bil-goalkeeper barrani b’kollox tas-Sliema, Neptunes spiccaw b’goal difference ta’ +10 ahjar mis-Sliema. It is shameful for Sliema coach Afric not to give their former regular goalkeeper Ryan Coleiro just a feel of the water throughout the season. Is this the kind of faith he had in his players. Ryan think it over for next season don’t let them trick you again. All other teams would acknowledge your service.  After all when it  mattered most Gergely was not up to it and let his team down.


    stopwatch Reply:

    it is not true that when it mattered, Gergeley let the team down. Only last week, and on other games before, the headlines were all for him and his great performances. It is the other players who must do their bit as well, No player performs miracles alone.


    Gunner Wenger Reply:

    So I suppose therefore you are satisfied with Sliema’s decision to sacrifice Coleiro and having only one foreign player in the fray                                  


    Tumas Reply:

    Stopwatch,  rajtu l-Gergely? Veru, Wenger sewwa qal li when it mattered most he was not up to it and let his team down. Basta serqu sena loghob lil Ryan Coleiro. Il-player tas-seklu se jtuk Ryan fic-celebrazzjonijiet tas-sagrificcju li ghamilt. Nahseb li Afric skadut gmielu


  3. Faded Red says:

    I’m a Neptunes supporter and obviously happy we’re in the final than having to face a tough semifinal.
    BUT i think that our team looked pathetic against Exiles and a draw would have been a fairer result.

    U x’jigifieri Stevie starts shouting at practically all our players?? Where has the humility gone? Lanzon as captain should not let these things happen. Last year the team was one compact unit, but this year things are not looking as bright. Hope we can regroup and beat our opponents in the final. If we play as we played against Exiles we’re in for a drubbing.

    With regards to Sliema, iddevertu kontru San Giljan! It’s your centenary year so that’s why you’ll be playing more matches :P LOL. Hope you won’t blame the loss against Sirens on the bouncers !!


    Supporter veru Reply:

    Faded red I don’t how true of a supporter you really are. Neptunes were in full control through out and never put the final result in doubt. I agree that the final result wasn’t good enough esp when you look at both sides on paper. I was there too and saw stevie shout out at a couple of players but I too would have done the same because I feel that there are a few players that need good wake up call esp if neptunes intend winning this years championship. Stevie has the international experience and respect from his team mates that allows him to vent out at whom he feels is not giving his all. I myself respect that alot more than the carefree attitude shown by alot of the players throughout the whole of the season. Neptunes can’t always rely on stevie and ciric to pull them out of the hole each time.


    Faded Red Reply:

    I can assure you that I AM a true supporter but not a BLIND SUPPORTER. If something is right in my team I am proud and say it, but if something is wrong I am not the type who will hide it. 

    A team that is in “full control”, does not go from 13-8 up to 13-11.
    A team that is in “full control”, keeps pushing for more goals, building a bigger margin to allow more reserve players to come in
    A team that is in “full control”, does not have players yelling at each other, but players enjoying the game and playing good waterpolo and giving a show to their supporters. Tell me if there was a single person at NEptunes who was happy about the performance on Friday.

    Re Stevie he is a living legend of mALTESE water polo. Jonathan Valletta had done something similar but Stevie is better as he is in his 4th season abroad achieving heights that no one else has ever reached. And I am very happy about that. But this does not mean that this success gives him a carte blanche to badger his team mates. He must also realise that in the team there is a triple olympic champion who can easily s*** on anyone if he wanted but he doesn’t.

    Venting out is not the right thing to do.  So Stevie and the foreigners should take on the pressure and pull the team if need be.  Have you ever seen players like Del Piero venting out on their team mates… leaders talk a lot, encourage their mates and lead by example to try and make their team mates better and NOT put them down. 


    xejn sew Reply:

    I didn’t watch the game, but I heard that Neptunes were very poor, pathetic actually…….but to be fair, the important thing is that we won…….obviously the team needs to pull its socks up if it wants to win the league, they have been under-par all season……I hope they peak for the finals, but considering we have been so poor and still topped the league shows that if we peak we have a very good chance of winning the league

    re Stevie, I think sometimes players need to be shouted at, as they can be complacent and arrogant in the water…….obviously there have to be limits to this, and players can’t be shouted at all the time as that only discourages them…..but a good hasla once in a while might do them good……….a true leader will know when to give a player a big hasla or to encourage them and guide them……..I hope stevie learns to pick the right moments to be harsh/encouraging, but seeing his history I have no doubt that he will eventually make the right choices

    waterpolo fan Reply:

    i find it somewhat amusing to see that there are a number of so called ‘neptunes supporters’ here that cant stop complaining and stiring up s*** even though neptunes finished first and  won the knock out just over a month ago. must i remind you that a short while ago we went through a dry spell that lasted 13 years and have just won 4 out of the last 6 leagues. winning is now no longer enough and we must bicker anyway over how we win too. yes we played a poor game but at no time where we in danger of losing it. so what must sliema supporters say after their team’s performance yesterday. yet you dont see them commenting and degrading their team and then trying to pass themselves as true supporters. you have spoke about encouraging the team and leading it yet here you are bringing it down. re Stevie yes he does shout and has always done so but i have never heard him insult or offend anybody. He has done alot for neptunes and maltese waterpolo in general. Valletta played a year in italy but was not under contract whereas stevie is going into his 5th year as a paid professional and is considered one of the top performing foreigners in the league so there is no comparison between the two. there is just one Stevie and we are very proud to have him. ‘Faded Red’ brought up Del Piero however different teams require different attributes in their respective captains. i will give you examples like Roy Keane, Paul Ince, Dino Zoff, Beppe Bergomi and many many more of captains who were far from silent and polite leaders.

  4. RobinvP says:

    Nefquhom fil-multa li wehlu fuq il-bouncers il-flus tal-Blues!! Ha ha.


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