SOL23: Cooks, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga begin netball campaign with convincing wins

Samoa enjoyed a big win on day one. Photos: Paul Fefera, Pacific Games News Service

Day one of the Sol2023 Pacific Games netball tournament saw convincing wins for Cook Islands, Samoa, Fiji and Tonga at Honiara’s Friendship Hall on Monday.

Samoa 2019 gold medallists Cook Islands kicked off their campaign in blistering fashion, defeating a spirited Vanuatu 84-13.

The defending champs all but sealed the match right from the get go – dominating possession and putting in the goals to bag their first win of the competition.

“We will just be taking each game as it comes – one game at a time and see what we need to work on, expecting to always improve in every game we play as the competition progresses,” captain Romehael Rauraa said.

Also seeing victory on Monday was Samoa, who outplayed Norfolk Island to earn a convincing 73-14 win.

Speaking to the Pacific Games News Service, captain Abigail Latu-Meafou said: “It is always good to get a win in your opening game. Obviously, we know this is a great opportunity for us to boost our rankings, so we will be going for the top 10”.

Seven-time Pacific Games gold medalists and favourites Fiji made a grand return to the Pacific Games after missing out on the 2019 edition, sweeping aside hosts Solomon Islands in an impressive 90-25 win.

The Fiji Pearls (as they are most commonly known) took command from the outset, flawlessly converting every opportunity as the home side struggled to match their pace and ball possession, leading 21-6 in the first quarter, 41-12 by half time and then taking it home after the breather to a final score of 90-25.

Meanwhile, the talk of today’s netball competition openers however belonged to Tonga, who against all odds played two matches and scooped back-to-back victories.

Finishing off as runners-up in 2019, the Tongan Tala are geared up this time round to go one better and win gold here at Sol2023.

Kicking off their campaign, the ladies in red thrashed Niue 90-17 in the competition’s opening match and then wrapped up proceedings with a hard earned 62-54 victory over Papua New Guinea.

Netball continues on Tuesday at Friendship Hall. Entry is $30.

By Roselyn Toliliu and Leilanie Kama, Pacific Games News Service