Pepes too good for hosts


PAPUA New Guinea trounced Nations Cup netball hosts Singapore 61-37 in an entertaining clash at OCBC Arena Hall on Wednesday night to move to second on the standings behind Zambia.
Both teams were off to an energetic start, with Pepes goal-attack Jeperth Tulapi netting the first point of the day.
Singapore caught up swiftly, with goal-shooter Charmaine Soh tossing the first three goals for her team to level the scores in a competitive first quarter.
PNG’ strong defence and decisive passes kept their opponents on the backfoot but the home side, spurred on by a partisan crowd, held their own despite getting out-worked by the Pepes in centre court.
Unaisi Rokoura’s side led at the first interval 14-10 and the writing was on the wall for the Singaporeans, who were game but lacked the physicality to match it against their Pacific opponents.
Pepes captain and chief scorer Lua Rikis opened the second term, scoring the first and second goals, aided by her unwavering concentration despite some pressure at the hoop.
Singapore endured several weak passes and missed attempts at goal, before breaking their opponent’s four-goal streak in the 11th minute.
The Pepes also delivered their seventh goal in a skilful fashion, scoring through a series of deft passes.
The second quarter came to an end, with Soh netting the final goal in the last three seconds to give her side some hope despite trailing 31-17.
Singapore goal-attack Pamela Liew was seen practising her shots during halftime, and the warm-up proved to useful, with the hosts getting a goal a minute into the third quarter.
That success pushed Singapore to surge back with a more organised and composed attack.
Wing-attack Kimberly Lim fed Soh, who managed to net her side’s 11th goal. Maintaining a one-point difference, both teams put up a close fight in the first half of this quarter.
The third quarter ended with a score of 42-30 to PNG but Singapore won the frame 14-11.
The fourth quarter saw PNG, with more possession, knocking off five more goals and Singapore could not hit back.
The Pepes showcased their superior technique and fitness in the final quarter, outscoring the home side 19-7.
Goal-keeper Kilala Owen put on a masterclass, thwarting many Singapore raids and breaking their resolve with smart and efficient defence.
Jeperth Tulapi ended the last and final quarter on a high, nailing a goal from the edge of the circle to take her personal tally to 35 goals for the match.
That epitomised PNG’s diominance, with the Pepes exacting a 24-point win over the hosts.
Pepes coach Rokoura said her side were given a competitive game despite the winning margin.
“Ruth’s done a great job with her team,” Rokoura said. “It is not easy when three of your experienced and key players retire. We definitely commend these young girls coming up as they played brilliantly.
“This team is the future of Singapore and they definitely gave us a run.
“With more international matches, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
“We had a strong start and full concentration – the second quarter made a difference.
“We need to be more consistent.”

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