Pepes go down to Tonga as netball pool matches finish


THE Papua New Guinea national netball team, Pepes, lost to Tonga 42-52 in a tight contest which energized the crowd at the Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa, yesterday.
Scores were even at 16-16 when PNG centre Nerrie Adula left the court through injury.
Tonga quickly added three goals as PNG regrouped. Both teams came out fighting in the third quarter as the crowd spurred them on.
Tonga played an open court, long passing game but PNG were sticking to shorter passes. Tonga continued to lob to goal shooter Uneeq Palavi and it worked.
They led 40-29 at three-quarter time and PNG fought hard to reduce the gap in the last quarter to the delight of the crowd, but to no avail.
The Cook Islands held onto a slight lead to beat Samoa in the last of the netball pool matches.
The Cook Islands took an early lead with superior mid-court defence. Goal-shooter Alana Smith worked her goal circle accurately, helping her team take 17-13 lead.
Samoa’s offence worked hard to push the ball to their goal, but the Cook Islands defence of Anania Piri and Eri Te Ana Short were on fire.
When the ball did get there, Samoan Alyssa Niko Tuifao made the most of it and scored. The home crowd debated every decision from the sidelines but at halftime, the Cook Islands led 33-25.
Cortney Brown came in as goalkeeper in the third quarter for Samoa and worked hard to tighten up the defence against Smith. However, the Cooks held their lead (47-39) at the end of the third quarter.
Samoa’s goalkeepers swapped in the last quarter, giving Niko Tuifua a run. Captain AJ Savelio shot accurately to get the gap to as low as six points, but Samoa never recovered from the second quarter when the Cook Islands took a comprehensive lead to finish 59-53.
In the other two matches, Tokelau beat Norfolk Island 64-17 for their first win of the Games.
The difference in the first quarter was in defence. Tokelau’s wing-attack Melehina Kilino-Lapana was key to switching defence to attack.
However, Norfolk Island slowed the scoring rate to 24-10 at halftime. Norfolk Island tried a new defensive lineup in the third quarter but to no avail. Tokelau’s defence was performing well – Merida Wolfgramm at goalkeeper made some spectacular interceptions.
Solomon Islands coach Miriam Poloso was pleased with her team’s 74-27 win over American Samoa.
“I am really happy with my girls today. They are a young team – 16-28 years old. We have four senior players but the rest of the girls are new to Pacific Games,” she said.
The Solomon Islands quickly took the lead using their youth, speed and agility to chase loose balls. Solomon Islands goal defence Roina Oke added to American Samoa’s woes by regularly reading play and intercepting balls meant for American Samoa’s offence.
Today’s semifinals start at 1pm (Samoa time) at the Multii-sport Centre, Faleata Sports Complex. – gamesnewsservice

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