Gallant Exiles pipped at the final horn

Partial scores: (2-2) (3-3) (4-0) (3-8)

Exiles nearly shocked Sliema when the teams met last night in the quarter-final tie of the Knock-Out competition. Three minutes from time Exiles were leading 12-10, however a combination of fear on their players’ part and the determination of the Blues to win , saw the latter have the last laugh in the last seconds of the game with a 13-12 win in an exciting finale.

Undoubtedly, despite the ultimate negative final score, it was the best match played by Dorian Pisani’s team. After a balanced first two sessions in which Sliema’s finishing was erratic to say the least, the third session started with both teams level at 5-5. Exiles forged ahead with a flurry of goals without reply from the Blues to win the session (4-0) thanks to a solid and compact Exiles’ rearguard which kept their opponents at bay. The shooting power and the orderly way in which the attacks were built proved deadly to open a comfortable lead of 9-5 to the surprise of all present. The fourth and final session started with two quick goals by Sliema in the first sixty seconds which rattled the Exiles morale.  Some goals given away by the Exiles team in that crucial stage showed lack of cohesion in the defence. The team fought back but somehow felt their opponents’ pressure and their greater will to win which they did in the last three minutes of the final session as they scored three goals. One may blame the lack of experience of the younger players  but the team’s slide had its toll reflected in the final outcome – indeed the partial score of the last quarter (3-8) was indeed hard pill to swallow.

Dorian’s team deserved better on the day – that’s was the general comment in the stands.

The Exiles players which took the water were Matthew Calleja, Julian Rizzo Naudi, Michele Stellini (4 goals), Timmy Sullivan (2 goals), Sean Xerri de Caro, Slobodan Nikic (3 goals), Kurt Griscti (1 goal), Andrea Bianchi (2 goals), Nicky Paris, Benji Lanzon and Luca Felice.

Sliema scored two of their seven man-ups but the final conversion proved to be the winner and tie. Exiles had the same number of ‘extra man’ in the water scoring three.

Exiles start the third and final round of the Premier Waterpolo League on Saturday the 29th July when they meet again Sliema who placed 5th in the overall classification after two rounds.

Swim-up at 19.15 hours.




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