After shaking off their nerves from Monday’s loss against Tonga Tala, Tifa Moana was able to make a strong come-back and clock in their first win against Cook Islands 54-35 at the Oceania World Cup Qualifiers in Fiji.
The Frances Solia coached side started the game off strong on both ends of the court to take an early lead, but their Cook Island opponents weren’t going down without a good fight.
Both teams played a physical game and there were multiple knocks to the wood for some players.
In the first quarter star centre Soli Ropati took a hard fall, then quickly recovered to feed the ball right into the hands of Savior Tui who was unstoppable under the goal. Tifa Moana took the lead 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The evel of physicality did not ease in the second quarter. Both teams came back firing. The Cook Islanders found their rhythm and launched a solid attack but it wasn’t enough. Samoa went to half time leading 25-18.
After the break Tifa Moana came back from halftime to absolutely rip it up on both ends of the court. Vice Captain Eseta Autagavaia shot Samoa’s first point of the quarter, which was then followed by masterclass shots by tournament debutants, Savior Tui and Fiapalagi Laikong.
Debutants Rebekah Roach and Hannah Ridling working with Melissa Oloamanu frustrated Cook Island’s set plays with their laockdown defense.
Oloamanu pulled off her classic interrupting intercepts which opened up multiple offensive opportunities for Tifa Moana. The girls opened the lead to 42-26 by the end of the third quarter.
With the win in the bag, Head Coach Frances Solia used the last quarter to give all players a run.
The talented locally based netball star and goal shooter Larafina Tanielu-Stowers made an enormous impact in the circle, dominating the Cook Island defense. Tanielu-Stowers is one to watch out for.
Samoa will take on the home nation, Fiji Pearls for thier 3rd game on Friday at 8:30pm (Samoa Local Time).