OUR young netball players once again lived up to the expectation driving the national side to a comfortable 66-23 win over Singapore in the LICI two Test match series opener last night at the Vodafone Arena in Suva.
Leading 33-13 at the break, coach Unaisi Rokoura rested her top players, who were struggling with niggling injuries, and fielded the under-21 reps to carry the hopes of the nation in the remainder of the match.
Nina Cirikisuva, Taufa Taga, Unaisi Rauluni and Raijeli Dareua proved to be the fantastic four as they marvelled their opponent to lead the national team onslaught in the second spell.
Lanky shooter Taraima Rara-Mitchell, evergreen Maria Lutua, hardworking Vaiti Waqatabu, tough Matila Waqanidrola and Luse Kotobalavu watched from the sideline in the final two quarters as youngsters carried on from where they left.
Captain courageous Mere Rabuka and versatile wing attack Alesi Waqa also played their hearts out to ensure Fiji made a good start to the Test series.
The national side started well with nine unanswered points through Rara-Mitchell and Lutua before Singapore came back firing with shooters Soh Shi Hui Charmaine and Yu Meiling proving a handful to Fiji defenders.
Fiji led 18-6 at the end of the first quater and continued their dominance to lead 33-13 at break.
In the second spell, Singapore struggled to contain the Fiji attack as the home side kept pilling points through Cirikisuva and Rauluni to finish the third quarter on 51-20.
The visitors recorded their worst (final) quarter managing to score only three points as Fiji overpowered and secured a 66-23 win.
Rokoura said they still needed to work on maintaining the intensity as players lapsed concentration resulting in the loss of possession.
But she said they would regroup to improve on those areas and keep their winning record intact in the final Test match at 4pm this afternoon.
"Couple of times we were being casual on our turnovers but into the final Test, we need to be geared up and do better to maintain the intensity throughout the game."
Singapore coach Yeo Mee Hong said Fiji played better and deserved to win.
She said they needed to improve on their timing to prove a threat today.
"I thought Fiji played really well, they moved the ball with speed and accuracy. We didn't start well and we were unable to contain them from the start as they got stronger along the match," Mee Hong said.
"We will work on our timing tomorrow (today), in terms of our connections. We will definitely want to drive to the ball stronger and harder and also not lose possession."