Fiji prove their netball ascendance to take gold over PNG

Taraima Mitchell led Fiji to a netball gold medal on Saturday. Photo by Susie Pini.

Taraima Mitchell led Fiji to a netball gold medal on Saturday. Photo by Susie Pini.

PORT MORESBY, July 18 – Fiji beat Papua New Guinea to claim gold in the Port Moresby 2015 Pacific Games netball final on Saturday at the PNG Power Dome.

Led by towering goal shooter Taraima Mitchell (FIJ), who scored 43 goals as she shot at an astounding 93 per cent, Fiji took a 17-goal victory over host PNG, running out 68-51 victors.

Mitchell put the victory down to Fiji’s superior preparation and the input of the team’s taskmaster of a coach, Kate Carpenter (NZL).

“I think at the end of the day our fitness came through, [thanks] to our coach pushing us,” said Mitchell.

“There was a lot of teamwork too. It’s a big boost, winning the gold medal. The girls have all been working hard for the families and for the country, so we are pretty happy about it.”

PNG were led by captain and goal attack Lua Rikis’ 30 goals on 33 attempts.

The team’s vocal leader did all she could to get her team over the line, but her one-woman wrecking crew effort was not enough against a team of Fiji’s talent.

PNG’s foil to Mitchell was goal shooter Tiata Baldwin (PNG), but the difference in quality was clear. Baldwin struggled mightily with the physicality, fitness, size and speed of the Fijian defence, and it showed as she ended the game scoring just 21 goals on 30 shots.

With the Port Moresby 2015 gold medal securely in her gym bag, Mitchell is already looking forward to the next challenge: a series against current world No.2 New Zealand, followed by the world cup in Australia later in 2015.

“It’s just a one-day break back at home and then we are off to Wellington (New Zealand) for a game against the Silver Ferns, so we are pretty hyped about that.”

The bronze playoff between Samoa and Cook Islands was a tight affair from the start.

It was only late in the third that the Samoans were able to get some separation on the scoreboard. Once they had it, they did not let it go – eventually winning 54-49.

Samoa was led by the strong play of Brooke Williams in the centre position and the shooting of Betty Tuipulotu, who scored 18 points from just 21 attempts.

Tuipulotu was well supported by goal attack Julianna Na’oupu-Laban’s 24 goals, shot at 73 per cent.

Cook Islands goal attack Courtney Capper had a rough shooting night, scoring just 16 goals on 26 attempts. This was particularly unfortunate because her partner in attack, goal shooter Ana Salanoa, had an excellent game, finishing with 33 goals, scored at an 85 per cent clip.

By Joel Fitzpatrick, Games News Service.

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