by Vanessa Knight – EM TV Sport, Port Moresby
The PNG Pepes caused a great upset for netball favourites, beating Samoa 62 – 53 in a nail-biting showdown at the PNG Power Dome this afternoon.
The PNG netball team is reaching high for gold, and have sent the message loud and clear to Pacific Netball Queens Fiji with today’s performance.
The first quarter ended with Samoa leading 19 – 13, however the host side proved to be more focused and determined, closing the gap and going neck to neck with the visiting side into the second quarter.
The Pepes kept the chase on Samoa a point behind, and achieved the evitable with several turnovers from a defence-combination of Kilala Owens, Margaret Eka and Neritha Adula.
Tiata Baldwin at goal shooter used her height to disadvantage her opponents and with another outstanding performance from crowd favourite Lua Rikis at goal attack, kept pressure on sinking the balls for the PNG side.
Team Samoa kept up the fight with great shooting from shooters Tanimo and Too, but the midcourt unravelled under pressure and fell away in the final quarter.
The scores for each quarter progressed with Samoa leading 19 – 13 in the first quarter. PNG took over and ended the second quarter with 30 – 28.
The Pepes maintained the lead by finishing the third quarter at 46 – 43, and ended with a 62 – 53 shock victory.
The host nation is ecstatic as it has been quite a while since PNG last beat Samoa in an international meet.
The Pepes are now on standby to take on the winner of Fiji and Cook Islands for the gold medal playoff.