PNG out of contention

Main Stories, Sports

The National, Thursday, June 9th 2011

THE Pacific MMI PNG Pepes’ hopes of improving their world ranking was further dampened when they lost their second game 62-50 to Samoa on day two of the Pacific Netball Series in Port Moresby yesterday.
The Pepes lost their first match to the Cook Islands 51-34 on Tuesday and today they meet pre-series favourites Fiji in the final game of the tournament.
The chances of winning the game against  a taller Fijians will be an uphill battle for the Pepes who showed some promise against Samoa.
Co-captain Lua Rikis said after the match that her girls put on exceptional display in the opening two quarters but they game slipped away in the third and fourth quarters.
In the opening two quarters, it was an even affair with Samoa leading by a point 13-12 in the first quarter.
Using their size, Samoa’s attempts to get away was not enough as PNG played strongly to level the score at 29-29 at the halftime break.
Samoa shifted to another gear in the third quarter to race away scoring 18 points for a 47-39 lead.
PNG came back in the fourth quarters trading goals but Samoa, using their height and superior skills, won by a 12-point margin.
Despite the loss, Rikis said the Pepes had improved from the first match.
“The scoreline in the four quarters showed that we lifted in all areas compared to our effort against the Cook Islands.”  
Rikis extended her appreciation to sponsors and supporters for backing them despite the results.
In the final match of the day, Fiji put on another commanding display against the Cook Islands to win 50-36.
Fiji started off badly though in the opening quarter to trail by a point, 11-10 but got their act together to pile on 13 points to the Cook Islands’ five to lead 23-17 at half time.
In the third quarter, Fiji furthered their lead 36-28 and steamrolled Cook Islands in the final quarter with 14 points to the Cook Islands’ six to win the match.  
Fiji coach Unaisi Rokoura was pleased with the win over the Cook Islands.
She gave credit to a team effort which saw the defending champions all but bagging the series with a game  left.
She said they were looking forward to the game against the Pepes – which she said would be a tough one.
The first match today is between the Cook Islands and Samoa while PNG take on fellow Melanesians Fiji after that.
After day two of the Pacific Netball Series, Fiji lead with two wins, Samoa and the Cook Islands with one win each and PNG yet to register a win.