Pepes swarm


PAPUA New Guinea moved to third on the Nations Cup ladder after a tense 51-40 win over Botswana in their netball match in Singapore on Wednesday night.
The clash gave the audience at the OCBC Arena Hall some thrilling moments as both teams showed intense offence and defence in a tightly-contested affair.
Pepes captain Lua Rikis got her side on the board in the opening minute of play but if the Papua New Guineans thought they had the measure of their opponents, then they were mistaken. Botswana did not hesitate and retaliated immediately with two goals.
Both teams were aggressive in their approach, often getting the scores tied.
The first quarter ended with the Africans taking a 12-11 lead.
The second quarter started very much like the first, with PNG getting off the first shot but Botswana rallied to hit back every time the Pepes scored, giving the fans an entertaining tit-for-tat duel.
For the first five minutes of the quarter, Botswana held a two-point lead however, PNG’s defence across the court was up to the challenge, enabling them to turn defence into offence on several occassions, even out the scores, and eventually ending the second-term five goals in front at 25-20.
As is the case in all close contests between evenly-matched sides, fitness and expereince, as well as cool heads, saw the Pepes break away in the second half of the match, after taking the early intiative again in the third frame.
PNG came out strong for the third quarter as they scored the first goal yet again.
Botswana lifted their offensive game and hit back with two goals to close the gap but Rikis and company kept the score ticking over, seemingly having an answer for everything Botswana threw at them to post a nine-goal win. Coach Unaisi Rokoura’s side are on four points equal with host Singapore but the home side has the better points differential (+47) to PNG (+38).
Zambia, who beat PNG 61-45 on Monday, are on top of the standings on six points, having won all three of their opening games.
The competition goes into recess today before restarting on Friday, when PNG take on Ireland in their final match of the six-team competition. Rikis said her team had learned from their loss to Zambia on Monday and were ready for Botswana.
“We learned from the game against Zambia and I think we did great for the match, we came out strong and got the results that we wanted against Botswana. Everyone on the team is prepared to take on the court,” Rikis said.
“Tomorrow’s match is against Singapore will be close even if they have home court advantage.

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