Niue netballers created history on the court after picking up their first ever win at a Pacific Games at Honiara’s Friendship Hall on Wednesday.
As Sol2023’s netball event entered its third day of competition, Niue were the day’s happiest winners. Absent from the Games for the past two decades, the ladies in yellow defied all odds in defeating Vanuatu 59-28 and claimed their first taste of netball victory at a Pacific Games.
After a slow start to Sol2023, which saw them drop points against Tonga and Samoa, Niue started off day three with much composure and determination and it paid off in sweet victory.
Speaking to the Pacific Games News Service, Niue team manager, Malama Rex Melagi, was full of praise for her team, adding that the win and creating history for their country made her and the team proud.
“The girls were outstanding. They did what we asked to do and they did it with urgency and effort. It’s a brand new team we have, and we haven’t played at the Pacific Games in 20 years. Our coach used to play in our world cup team 20 years ago – for the girls, it’s their first.”
She added that Wednesday’s win is a morale booster for her girls in the lead-up to their final match against Papua New Guinea on Thursday.
Samoa, Fiji and Tonga all secured semi-final spots after convincing victories on Wednesday.
Samoa defeated Solomon Islands 87-19 to progress, as did Fiji who completed a clean sweep of their pool matches with an impressive 98-16 win over Norfolk Island.
“We are happy with the win, though there is still room for improvement. We could have done better and scored more but its good to finish off the pool rounds unbeaten. We now look forward to Friday’s semi-finals,” Fiji Pearls coach Una Roroura said.
Wrapping up today’s events, the final match was anticipated to be a cracker as defending Champions Cook Islands went head to head with Tonga in a repeat of the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games netball final.
Tonga Tala however had the last laugh this time around, earning sweet revenge in a whooping 77-30 victory, also sealing their fate for Friday’s semis.
Tonga’s Luana Aukafolau said: “It feels good to have gone all the way and did all that we can to beat the defending Pacific Games champions. Now we will prepare for the next game which we anticipate will be more physical – this, however, is nothing we’re not prepared for”.
Netball continues on Thursday at Friendship Hall with semi-finals set to begin on Friday. Entry is $30.
By Roselyn Toliliu, Olyn Kao and Leilanie Kama, Pacific Games News Service