Four years after their campaign wound up to a disappointing end at the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games, Tonga finally achieved its goal of becoming Sol2023 Pacific Games champions for the first time at Friendship Hall on Saturday.
Up until now, only two nations – Fiji and Cook Islands – had ever won the Pacific Games netball tournament.
After the disappointment of losing the gold medal match to Cook Islands at Samoa 2019 and coming into the tournament as the highest ranked Pacific Island nation in world netball, the Tonga Tala were always favorites to win gold this time around.
The girls in red showed exactly that in defeating Fiji in Saturday’s gold medal match.
Starting off with a bang, both teams showed exactly why they were the final two battling it out for gold. Both having possession, scoring the important goals and pushing for the win.
However, it was Tonga who maintained their composure, ultimately edging out their opponents to take home the gold and Pacific netball crown, 56-52.
A very happy Tonga captain, Hulita Veve, said to come out on top four years on from the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games is indeed satisfying.
“We never expected to win this gold. We (both teams) came out fighting – we both wanted to win and to have it in our favour in the end is indeed sweet and refreshing. It was an inspiring end to a beautiful tournament.”
Veve thanked Solomon Islands for hosting a brilliant netball competition and a great Games this year.
A disappointed Fiji team declined to comment.
Meanwhile, Samoa took home the bronze medal after seeing off a determined Papua New Guinea side 52-49.
Samoa captain Kristiana Manua said: “We knew the PNG match wouldn’t be an easy game. That was exactly how the match panned out. In the end, we came out with the victory and the bronze medal.”
PNG finished off fourth overall in the competition.
By Roselyn Toliliu and Lois Sukulu, Pacific Games News Service