Pearls join Tala at netball World Cup after 23-point win

The World Cup-bound Fiji netball squad with Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama Photo: Netball Fiji

Fiji has secured the second Oceania spot for next year’s Netball World Cup finals in South Africa.

The Pearls defeated the Cook Islands 51-34 in Suva on Saturday night to finish behind Tonga in the table.

It was much closer than the final scoreline suggested, however, with just one goal separating the sides at half-time.

Fiji on the attack against the Cook Islands

Fiji on the attack against the Cook Islands Photo: Netball Fiji

But Fiji grasped a hold on the match after the break to lead by 11 points at the end of the third quarter and they extended that lead in the final period.

“This was our last game we needed to win and I take my hat off to the Fiji Pearls girls,” said Pearls head coach Unaisi Rokoura.

“They deserved the win today, they’ve worked hard in the past four months to get the team together and prepare for this qualifier. They just have that commitment and they came out firing.”

In Saturday night’s other match, Samoa easily defeated the group’s weakest team Papua New Guinea 85 to 32.

Samoa led by 13 points after the first quarter and completely dominated the match to finish the campaign third.

Tonga qualified for the World Cup for the first time by beating the Cook Islands on Friday.