In a classy display of netball ease, the club premier grade reclaimed their champion-of-champions’ title against the hugely popular and blazing Arorangi Flames.
In the end the Pearls raced off to a comfortable 66-47 win. However, the scores are no reflection on the athleticism and netball nous shown on court by both teams.
Netball lovers who packed the eastern wing of the Telecom Sports Arena were treated to an afternoon of exciting netball to wrap up the short 2015 domestic netball season.
Long before the experienced netters laced up, it was the future stars in the junior grades who really showed their love of the game.
The Ngatangiia under 8 team showed slick skills to take out the age grade division ahead of their Avatiu peers 15-8, in a game where participation is key.
In the dynamo under 11 division, it was a tense and tight battle between Avatiu and Takuvaine with the game going right down to the wire.
With the game going goal-for-goal, Avatiu kept their cool to edge out an equally talented Takuvaine side 17-14.
Another tight battle in the under 14 division between Tupapa and Arorangi had the crowd in roars of instructions at the players in what was a fast pace game.
In the end a superb defensive effort by the Tupapa side in the Arorangi circle edged the side ahead with their own capable shooters converting goals to take out the grade 16-11.
The tension lifted another notch for the under 17 grand final between talent-stacked Avatiu and Arorangi sides.
The grade is the immediate future of netball, with the under 21 Netball World Cup being targeted as part of ongoing netball development for the Cook Islands.
The Cooks should put up a stronger team for this future tournament, judging by the impressive skills seen on court in a game that could have gone either way.
Not much separated the two teams in a match that had the crowd on the edge of their seats.
A single goal 30-29 was all Arorangi needed to lift the title.
Standouts for Arorangi were defender Demzel Rongokea who attacked every feed into the Avatiu side, and sharp-shooter Evelyn Mataora.
For Avatiu, Hoani Gibson and Marei Nicholas made a strong defending duo ably supported by Tekeu Tou.
Netters of yesterday had their turn to shine on court with the Avatiu dominating Takuvaine to win the open grade division, while the 40 plus Arorangi side had the firepower to overcome Tupapa to win the senior open division 19-17.
A gutsy Takuvaine reserve grade team made Titikaveka work hard for the division trophy in a defenders game.
Titikaveka had more gas in the tank to push their lead out and win over a determined Takuvaine team.
The afternoon games certainly had the crowd anticipating a fiery premier grade final between longstanding netball queens the Titikaveka Pearls and the blazing Arorangi Flames team, who have been a force to reckon with this season.
Both sides had balanced squads comprising youth and experience, however the Pearls had an edge in fitness and a sister act trio in Matenga sisters Luciana and Kara in defence and Ani owning the shooting circle.
The Flames also had their sibling combination in Maui sisters Teiva at midcourt and Latisha in the shooting circle with the ever-youthful Phillipa Arona.
Despite a valiant effort by the Flames led by captain Mavis Teaurima and thunderous support from the stands it was the classy Pearls who once again lifted season’s netball champion’s title.
More netball photos and the special award recipients will be printed in tomorrow’s edition of CI News.