With 18 places separating the Australian Diamonds and Fiji Pearls in the latest world rankings, a comprehensive victory for Australia (1) over Fiji (19) was all but guaranteed in Fiji’s last round of pool stage.
The Diamonds outclassed Fiji Pearls 101 – 32. This was the second 100-goal score of the World Cup. It was the Diamonds’ fifth World Cup victory over the Pearls.
In the second round of pool A, both Zimbabwe and Fiji were hungry for their first wins of the tournament after suffering opening day losses at the hands of Australia and Tonga respectively.
Playing against each other for the first time at a Netball World Cup, it was a tightly contested opening quarter. A run of five unanswered goals saw Zimbabwe pulling ahead, but the Fiji Pearls came back at them in the second and third round to extend their lead, the last quarter Zimbabwe managed to make a come back with 13 points while the Pearls netting 9 points to secure the win 52 – 48.
The Fiji Pearls played their NWC opener against a spirited Tonga Tala team, it was an Intense showdown against the Tonga Tala ending with a 56 -51.
It was a tentative start by both teams. Fiji decided on an aerial game to counter the more physical play of Tonga. It mattered on the scoreboard, and they ended the first 15 minutes with a five-goal lead.
Although Fiji’s goal circle was operating well, silly mistakes were starting to creep in, costing them dearly. The last 15 minutes of the match saw strong attacking play from Tonga, putting their opponents under constant pressure across the court. Accurate shooting by Tuivaiti and Uneeq Palavi ensured the win.
Fiji Pearls head coach Unaisi Rokoura explained that their main focus coming in to the world cup is to get a win and play their own style of netball.
“We had a goal coming into this world cup and that is to win our games, we manage to get the win against Zimbabwe even though we fell short against Tonga, Its always important that we focus on our own game play and play our own style of netball, thats what the girls did,” said Rokoura.
Rokoura emphasised the importance of playing Diamonds the number one team in the world, she added that the game will provided the experience to Fiji Pearls young players and will help them develop.
“Its a great opportunity to play the number one team in the World, we don’t know when we will play the diamonds again, Its amazing to have these young girls mostly local base coming into the world cup and getting that experience, and just play their style of Netball, they’re learning and growing at the same time.”
Fiji Pearls now secures the third place in pool A with Australia Diamonds in first and Tonga Tala in second.
In the next stage of the NWC preliminary rounds, Fiji Pearls is drawn into Pool F where the top 3 teams from Pool A takes on the top three teams in Pool B. With a total of 6 teams the in Pool F, only the top 2 teams will make it in to the semifinals, while the other four teams will play in the playoffs.
Fiji Pearls will now take on Malawi in round 4 on 31st July at 9pm, Pearls vs England in round 5 on 2nd August at 6am, and they’ll play Scotland in round 7 on the 3rd August at 9pm.