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Friday 4 June 2010 | Published in Regional

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An outstanding defensive game by the Fiji national netball team saw them defeat Samoa 50-45 in the first Pacific Series netball game yesterday afternoon.

The two teams took to the court after a very brief opening ceremony at the Telecom Sports Arena.

Both sides looked evenly matched physically, but it was the stifling Fiji defence that stood out from the first pass off by team Samoa.

Through some fantastic defence in the circle and lightning drives down the court – Fiji had the early lead in the first half.

But Samoa were not to be outdone as they clawed their way back into the game.

Fiji took out the first quarter 15-14.

Samoa coach Linda Vagana made one change to her side in the second quarter while Fiji remained with their starting line up.

In the second quarter, the Telecom Sports Arena began to pack out on one side with singing and flag waving Fijian supporters.

Fiji continued their strong first half performance with some fantastic intercepts at mid court.

Samoa struggled to feed their able shooters as Fiji suffocated their drive to the goal with tight defence around the top of the shooting circle.

At times the game resembled a rugby match as players put their bodies on the line to retrieve a loose ball or intercept a wayward pass.

Fiji took out the second quarter 29-25 forcing Vagana to again make some changes to her centre court players and inject some fresh legs.

The third quarter played out as if it were the final quarter as each successful shot at goal and intercept was met with thunderous roars from the thrilled crowd.

Fiji managed to give themselves a five goal lead during the third quarter and much needed breathing space.

But again Samoa pounced on Fiji again to pull back their lead to just two points 37-39 at the end of the third quarter.

Fiji were more assertive in the last quarter as they looked to minimise their mistakes and hang on to their lead and eventually win by five points 45-50 against a very tough Samoan side.

The Cook Islands squad then faced Papua New Guinea in the final match of the night.

Today the defeated Samoan side will no doubt unleash their fury on Papua New Guinea when they take to the court at 4.30pm.

Cook Islands will meet Fiji today in round two of the Pacific Series at the Telecom Sports Arena.

Tomorrow is the final day of the series with Fiji to take on PNG at 2pm followed by the Cooks vs Samoa at 4.15pm.