Fiji Time: 12:54 AM on Wednesday 2 December

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Pearls shine

Rashneel Kumar
Wednesday, May 07, 2014

ONE down, one more to go.

The Fiji Pearls made a perfect start to their campaign in the Digicel Tri-Series Netball competition winning the opening match against Papua New Guinea 67-41 at the Vodafone Arena in Suva last night.

The Julie Hoornweg-coached side dominated from the opening quarter and picked up from the poor restart in the second spell to lead the series.

The national side made a strong start in the opening quarter racing to an 18-12 lead, thanks to the shooting prowess of Afa Rusivakula and Maria Lutua.

Goal shooter Rusivakula and goal attack Lutua co-ordinated well with centre Vaiti Waqatabu and wing attack Alesi Waqa to maintain the pressure on the PNG defence.

The Pepes were excellent in attack as well and shooter Tiata Baldwin made some excellent goals to keep her side within fighting distance.

PNG was a bit disorganised in the second set and tough defending from the Fijian side led by skipper Matila Waqanidrola and her protégé replacement Jane Dikini helped extend the lead to 34-21 at the break.

The visitors made a better start in the second spell but Fiji maintained its composure and fought back to maintain its lead on 51-33 at the end of the third quarter.

Coach Hoornweg brought in shooter Nina Cirikisuva replacing Rusivakula in the final set and the fired up Pearls, backed by the vocal supporters, went on to win the match 67-41.

"They were fantastic. I thought it was a great game," Hoornweg said.

PNG coach Annie Iamo said they would work on their weaknesses to ensure a better performance against Northern Ireland tonight at 7pm.

Meanwhile, Fiji A defeated Tonga 42-36 in the curtain-raiser.

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