It was a cakewalk in the side’s first match against Tokelau, with the Black Pearls strolling home in a dominating 67-20 win. The team led from the outset, never giving the Tokelauans a chance to put themselves in the game.
“We’re really excited to be here, the tournament’s been great. We’ve experienced lots of different styles of netball,” says the team’s coach Anna Andrews-Tasola.
The Black Pearls’ second match was against Norfolk Island, a game that went much like their first. Impressive chemistry and strong defence saw the Cook Islanders take a 24-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. The team managed to hold Norfolk Islands to only two goals in the second quarter, extending their lead to 48-9 by halftime.
Incredibly, the Cook Islands held their opponents to just one goal in the third period, to take a 75-10 lead by the end of the third period.
The team finished strong, extending their lead in the fourth period to come away 91-16 winners.
“The girls are really coming together and working hard,” Andrews-Tasola says.
Elena Mataora and Alanna Smith led the way in shooting, proving too classy for the Norfolk Island defence.
The national team will take on hosts Samoa tonight in the final match of pool play, a game that will be the team’s first real test of how they compare to the other nation’s competing for a medal.
“There’s still lots of work for us to do, lots of improvements to be made … there’s lots to work on in terms of possession and getting more gains,” says Andrews-Tasola.
The Black Pearls will look to steal a victory on the host nation’s soil, hoping to place first in the standings and advancing through to the semi-finals as the top seeded team.
Their semi-final match is scheduled to take place tomorrow, with the final match being played the following day.