SPECTATORS played an instrumental role in Fiji's 49-43 win over Samoa in the 2012 LICI Pacific Netball Series (PNS) at Vodafone Arena in Laucala last night.
The visitors came close in the third quarter and seemed to have taken the control of the match but the fans kept chanting the "Go Fiji Go" slogan to distract Samoa's attention in the critical moment of the game.
Fiji quickly regained possession and took control of the final quarter to ensure they came out victors in the end.
The Unaisi Rokoura-coached side started the match well and shooters Maria Lutua and Taraima Rara-Mitchell kept Fiji ahead with a 16-8 lead in the opening quarter. The national side continued their attack in the second quarter with skipper Mere Rabuka, experienced Matila Waqanidrola and Luse Kotobalavu superb at defence.
Hardworking centre Vaiti Waqatabu and wing attack Alesi Waqa played a pivotal role in setting up the attack for the shooters to get the scores on board.
Fiji led 29-18 at break.
Sensing defeat, the Samoans fought back in third quarter and shocked the national side with series of attacks to breach the deficit and come within a fighting distance.
Fiji defenders were caught off guard and Samoa kept piling the points to finish the third quarter 37-33, in favour of the home side.
Lutua, who was replaced by young Unaisi Rauluni in the third quarters, came back in the final quarter to spark Fiji's attack alongside Rara-Mitchell.
The defenders also stood tall and secured possessions while the Samoans looked simply clueless and succumbed to the pressure on and off the court.
The national players played like women possessed and gave all to secure the win.
"Consistency is something we need to work on. We need to play the game from the first quarter till the last and we need to avoid our opponents coming back to us," Rokoura said.
"Samoans played well and they managed to comeback in the third quarter but I guess the crowd and other things motivated the girls to keep their focus on the game."
Rokoura said her message before the final quarter was to play their hearts out and give all they had in the final 15 minutes of the match.
"I told them ‘you can't turn their backs from here. It's now or never'. I told them ‘everybody needs to step up because we got only 15 more minutes to do what we came for'," she said.
"I also told them ‘you were trained for this and you need to go there and play like Fijians because this is our home ground and we can't let anyone take it (the glory) from us'."
Fiji has a hand on the PNS title and needs a mere win against the Cook Islands to make it their third consecutive win.