The National, Wednesday, June 8th 2011
By HENRY MORABANG
REIGNING champions Fiji continued their dominance during the clash of the heavyweights beating Samoa 48-35 yesterday in the opening match of the Pacific Netball Series in Port Moresby.
Led by Afa Rusivakula (GS) and Scruwaia Vonolagi (GA), Fiji were in front in all four quarters at the Sir John Guise indoor complex.
It was steely mid-court defence by Alesi Waqa (C), Lusa Kotobalavu (WD) Mere Rabuka (GK) and skipper Matila Waqanidrola (GD) that blunted Samoa’s attack.
Fiji started the first quarter leading by two points 9-7, but ran away in the second scoring 15 points while Samoa added seven which brought the total to 24-14 at half time.
In the third quarter, Fiji continued their momentum reaching 35 while Samoa improved to 23.
Samoa captain Opheira Karatau introduced reserves Sepi Langi (GS) and Sose Tava’e (C) to give the women in blue some fresh legs.
Despite the changes, Sepi and Tava’e, had little impact as Fiji maintained their lead to close out the match 13 goals in front.
Fiji coach Unaisi Rokoura was pleased with the winning start.
“Everyone played well today especially Afa Rusivakula who scored well,” she said.
Samoa coach Linda Vagaroi conceded defeat saying Fiji were too strong.
“We had too many turn-overs which caused our downfall,” she said.
But she was pleased with the whole-hearted effort.
In the second match, the Cook Islands handed hosts PNG Pepes a 51-34 defeat making PNG’s aim of improving their world ranking harder.
It was the shooting pair of Curly Taripo (GA) and Ani Matenga (GS) who wreaked havoc.
PNG’s lack of composure at the ring also played a part in the loss.
Pepes goalshooter Marie Ottio had an ordinary outing while Maleta Roberts was the lone trier.
Centre Alurigo Opina is still finding her feet but Lua Rikis found the going tough against the Cook Islands’ offensive duo of Matenga and Taripo.
In today’s matches, Samoa will play PNG in the 3pm match while Fiji take on the Cook Islands in the 5pm match.