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Pearl attack

Rashneel Kumar
Tuesday, May 06, 2014

THE desire to remain the Pacific queens on the court will be in the minds of the Fiji Pearls when they take on Papua New Guinea in the Digicel Tri-Series Netball opener in Suva tonight.

The Julie Hoornweg-coached Fiji takes on the Pepes at 7pm at the Vodafone Arena in Laucala Bay.

Fiji has proved to be a dominant side in the Pacific and wants to retain the status ahead of the Pacific Netball Series which will be held next month.

Coach Hoornweg had only a week with the national side but is confident of a good performance tonight.

"The girls have responded very well and we feel we have come a long way in a very short period of time," the veteran Australian mentor said.

"From my past experience, PNG always gives us a very good match. It's always a tight tussle, very fast and they use the ball well so we expecting them to come out with a really good team."

PNG coach Annie Iamo said they have a plan to shut the Fijians down in the match.

"Fiji is first in the Pacific and they are very good so we will just try to better our performance from last year," Iamo said.

"We got a good mix of young and experienced players in the team and we are hoping for a good game."

Fiji, which is the defending champion of the PNS, needs a good result from this series to remain on track of playing in the World Netball Championship in Australia next year.

Captain Matila Waqanidrola said the players were ready for the challenge.

The tough defender has promised a great spectacle adding they will be ruthless against PNG.

Her PNG counterpart Winnie Mavara responded saying they would not give up easily.

"We are surprised they put Fiji first, we wanted to play others first but that's ok. We will take whatever is there."

Meanwhile in the curtain-raiser match, Fiji A will play Tonga at 4.30pm.

Tickets for the series will be sold at $3 for adults and $1 for children under the age of 12.

Northern Ireland is also part of the series and will play Fiji tomorrow.

Fiji Pearls - Afa Rusivakula, Alesi Waqa, Debra Delana, Jane Dikini, Lusi Robanakadavu, Maria Lutua, Matila Waqanidrola (C), Nina Cirikisuva, Sera Dakuitoga, Teimumu Vukinavanua, Vaiti Waqatabu, Vilisi Tavui

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