PNG edge Ireland to book final against Zambia in Singapore


IN what was arguably the most nail-biting contest of the netball tournament, Papua New Guinea came out narrow 43-41 victors over a plucky Ireland side to book their second consecutive finals appearance.
Ireland started the match strongly, scoring from nine of their 11 attempts.
Entering the tournament as the lowest ranked teams, the minnows played well and showed good teamwork and industry. Both teams set an electrifying pace as they covered the court quickly, moving the ball with short decisive passes.
At the back, both nations relied on a strong and unshakeable defensive foundation, giving the shooters and attackers little room to manoeuvre.
An appetite for the ball resulted in a closely-battled first quarter; at the buzzer PNG led by four points.
In the second quarter, Pepes made a host of changes as captain Lua Rikis took on the role of shooter, and athletic Nerrida Adula moving to centre from wing-defence. The changes allowed PNG to keep up the pace, ensuring Ireland had to give their all to keep up.
Despite the pace, the Irish managed to keep up and through their efficient and consistent play, managed to snag 10 points, trailing by seven at the half.
Halftime proved to be a respite for the Europeans as they regrouped and came out flying to take the game to the Pepes.
Knowing they were in for a fight, the Pepes found themselves having to weather a storm as the Irish rained 19 attempts at their goal.
While the conversion rate was a tad under half, the pure rhythm and endeavour proved to turn the tide as the quarter ended eight-all.
The Irish dominance continued into the fourth quarter as they missed only one of 15 attempts to take the quarter 14-9.
Despite this win, the late challenge was not sufficient to overturn the earlier Pepes lead as the Irish fell to a Papua New Guinea buzzer-beater. The final score was 41-43.
With the win, PNG ensured a second final appearance in as many years in Saturday’s final.

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