The National, Friday, June 10th 2011
By HENRY MORABANG
REIGNING champions Fiji have successfully defended their crown thrashing Papua New Guinea 72-34 in the final day of the Pacific Netball Series at Sir John Guise Stadium last night.
Fiji coach Unaisi Rokoura said after the match that she was happy her team had defended their crown in style.
She gave credit to all her players but also singled out youngster Afa Rusivakula, who came in as substitute for starting goalshooter Elenoa Vatureba.
Vatureba, who started the game off potting 15 consecutive points had help from vice-captain Serecaia Venologi with three points while Afa scored one to complete first quarter 19-6.
Vatureba was a constant threat with her height and athleticism allowing her to dominate at the ring.
Rokoura also commended veteran and captain Matila Waqanidrola, Venologi and Vatureba for leading the Fiji charge.
PNG struggled to get over their taller opponents managed to score six points shared by Lua Rikis and Maleta Roberts.
In the second quarter, Fiji raced away scoring 14 points while PNG managed to score 10 to bring the score 33-16 at half time.
Despite a reshuffle the players in the third quarter, it made little difference as Fiji maintained possession to pile on more points.
The introduction of young defender Jessie Logo for PNG did more harm to the team as she struggled to keep pace with the fast moving Fijians.
Fiji were 20 points in front 54-34 by the end of the third quarter and continued to outplay the Pepes in all areas for a comprehensive 38-point win.
Rokoura commended the PNG for pushing her girls all the way and trying hard.
Pepes coach Pole Kassman said Fiji were a superior side and they had stamped their authority in all quarters to win the match.
Kassman said Maleta Roberts, Winnie Mavara and Lua Rikis were the only three hands while the bulk of the team were new blood who will carry the flag in future tournament.
Unlike PNG Pepes, all three other Pacific Island opponents have indoor facilities which gave them upper hand during the tournament.
In the early match, Cook Island upset Samoa 35-44.
It was clinical display of skills and tactics by former Pacific queens, the Cooks to beat Samoa.
Goal shooter Curly Taripo who had to change to Goal Attack in the second quarter potted most of the points for Cook Islands.
Despite Samoa recalling Malu Fa’asavalu in the third and fourth quarter, this did little as Cooks were already sailing to the island winning 35-44
Cook Islands coach Ritua Alliva’a commended her girls for putting a good fight to beat Samoa while Samoa Linda Vagana and her girls will have to do more work within two weeks to attend World Netball Cup in Singapore next month.
All coaches thanked PNG for the hospital especially the sponsors for making the tournament a success.