Black Pearls make cup final

Monday December 11, 2017 Written by Published in Netball

The Cook Islands netball team has made it to the final of the Nations Cup after soundly defeating hosts Singapore 57-49 late on Thursday night.

 

Thursday’s win was the fifth consecutive one for the team, who have made a return to international netball after a two-year hiatus.

Coming into the annual invitational tournament, Singapore were the highest ranked team at 19, but early losses to Ireland and Swaziland put a dent in their finals aspirations.

However, they came out strong in the game’s opening quarter, only to be undone by a pressing Cook Islands defence that forced sloppy passes, allowing our girls to take a 13-10 lead.

The Black Pearls built on that three-point lead, stretching it out to 10 going into the half time break.

At half time the home team made a number of changes to try and get back into the game. The changes seemed to work as they won the quarter 15-13, with the Kuki’s taking a slim 44-36 lead into the final period.

Although the Black Pearls were up against what on paper was a better opponent, they displayed a skill and tenacity that belied their two-year break to grind out a 13-13 all fourth quarter draw, to take the win 57-49.

The girls now make the final after having lost their rankings due to the lack of matches played. In fact, their last international match coming into the tournament was against PNG at the 2015 Pacific Games.

It was not due to a lack of desire or commitment that a team was not fielded, but rather a lack of funding.

However, an experienced team was still put out on the court, as only two were making their international debut, and that veteran leadership shone through when the team needed it most.

In the final, the Cook Islands will face Swaziland, who they have already defeated in their fourth match of the tournament 54-44, which was played last night after this edition went to print.

In the other matches, Singapore will face Ireland in the third/fourth-placed match, while Hong Kong and Malaysia will contest for fifth place.

Leave a comment