By Aiva Tamate-Ore, Games News Service
PORT MORESBY, July 16 – Papua New Guinea beat long-time rivals Samoa in a surprise victory in netball at the PNG Power Dome on Wednesday.
Samoa has always been one of PNG’s toughest rivals beating the team in the dying minutes at several regional matches including the 2007 South Pacific Games, the 2009 Mini South Pacific Games, and the Oceania qualification tournament just last month.
In a sizzling game, Samoa came out strong in the first two quarters against PNG showing its dominance on the court.
After the first quarter, Samoa was leading PNG by six points, 19-13.
By the end of the second quarter, PNG’s tight combination in all positions from defence right through to attack changed the score when the team netted 17 more balls to take the lead 30-28.
Having regrouped at half-time, Samoa came out very strong in the third quarter matching every net placed by PNG.
The score at the end of the third quarter, PNG 46, Samoa 43.
At full time, PNG won by a eight points, 62-54.
Lua Rikis, PNG’s captain, said she was lost for words as the team moved one step closer to the coveted gold medal.
“I just want to thank the our heavenly father most of all,” Rikis said.
“It was an extremely close game. I want to thank the home crowd, we wouldn’t have done it without you.”
Meanwhile, top seed Fiji, who will play PNG in the quarterfinal on Friday, overwhelmed Cook Islands, 69-32.
Tonga beat Solomon Islands 50-39, its first win since loosing to Samoa, Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea earlier in the week.
In the last match of the day, Tonga defeated Vanuatu by 27 points, 53-26.
The quarterfinals will start on at the PNG Power Dome on Thursday at 13:00 with the gold medal game on Saturday.