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Titikaveka Pearls triumph in netball finale

Saturday 6 July 2024 | Written by Solomone Taukei | Published in Netball, Sports


Titikaveka Pearls triumph in netball finale
Titikaveka Pearls celebrate their win at the Tupapa netball court on Thursday night. SOLOMONE TAUKEI / 24070532

Titikaveka Pearls are 2024 netball Cook Islands Premiership winners after taking down Tupapa 41-30 on Thursday night.

The netball final between Titikaveka Pearls and Tupapa was nothing short of electrifying, with Titikaveka emerging victorious in one of the season's most thrilling matches.

The game, held at the Tupapa Dome, saw Titikaveka led by a strong start, thanks to the dynamic duo of Alana Smith at Goal Attack (GA) and Maya Piakura at Goal Shooter (GS).

Their synergy on the court was unmatched, setting the tone for the rest of the match.

Defensively, Micheyla Matapo was a force to be reckoned with, collecting rebounds and intercepts, ensuring Tupapa had a hard time finding their rhythm.

Despite a shaky start with their first goal rebound, Tupapa's Mere-Jean Piri intercepted the ball, marking their presence on the scoreboard.

This moment boosted their confidence, allowing Riiana Nicholas and Tashi Kopu to slot goals with precision, keeping their team in the game.

However, a mid game concussion to Maya Piakura forced her to the bench for assessment.

This setback could have been detrimental, but it paved the way for Titikaveka's secret weapon: the young and talented Maihanarei Short. Short took over the GA position while Smith switched to GS.

This combination proved to be a game-changer.

The thrilling match at the netball finals on Thursday saw Titikaveka Pearls walking away with the win. SOLOMONE TAUKEI 24070534 / 24070535

The tall and agile Short controlled the game magnificently, creating openings for Smith, who held her space under the post. By halftime, Titikaveka had secured a 6-point lead, with the score at 20-14.

The second half was a demonstration to the resilience and determination of both teams. Momentum swung in Tupapa's favour as Riiana Nicholas commanded play in the shooting circle with her fast and skilled manoeuvres, preventing defenders from intercepting high balls. On the defensive end, Norma Pepe and Mere-Jean Piri formed a formidable duo, collecting three crucial intercepts that narrowed the margin.

Despite Tupapa's fierce comeback, the well-knit and structured unit of the Titikaveka Pearls held their ground.

The young Short continued to shine, slotting long-range shots with ease, while Smith remained a pillar of strength under the post. Their teamwork and focus led Titikaveka to a hard-fought victory.

After the match, captain Alana Smith shared her sentiments, expressing pride in her team's performance, especially the under-21 players who have been instrumental in their success. "It was a special win, especially for our young under-21 players who have been doing a lot for the team, putting in the hard yards," Smith said.

Reflecting on the moments when the team faced pressure, she added, "When the pressure was on, we had to reset, letting go of everything that happened and just refocusing on winning the game."

Micheyla Matapo, one of the standout players of the season, also shared her thoughts. "I'm super proud of everyone. We just played it to the last minute, keeping on our toes and not letting our guard down.”

She said it was all about good communication and making sure everyone knew we had each other's backs. Talking is the main thing."