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Wednesday 15 April 2009 | Published in Regional


Saturday 11: The Cook Islands under 21 training squad certainly had the superior skills and fitness to win their first ‘test’ match 55-38 on Thursday afternoon against a local selection.

The under 21 squad flew straight out off the blocks to give themselves a good early lead and left the local side to play catch up.

The local under 21 did really well to claw their way back into the match showing some great skills. But it was the under 21 training squad that looked like they were on a mission.

A mission to impress not only their ever-watchful coach Teresa Tairi, who will select her final team next week, but also the crowd of around 200-plus people that made the effort to go to the auditorium to watch the game.

The under 21 squad led by five goals 17-12 at the first quarter break and at the second quarter break the local side still trailed by five points (27-22).

Under 21 head coach Teresa Tairi took the opportunity to trial out a number of combinations with the 15 girls in her squad. The third quarter combination really did some damage to stretch the team’s lead over the local side by nine points (38-29) at the last break.

By the final quarter the under 21 team were so comfortable in their lead that some great plays were seen.

There was a comment that if the local side had spent a few days training together they probably would have come up with a better result.

Impressive for the squad was goal shooter Alana Smith with her fantastic ability to stay calm under pressure and shoot goals from anywhere in the shooting circle.

Also coming up with a strong game was the team’s captain for the match Melissa Pittman who alternated between centre and wing defence and by the end of the game the youngster still had energy to burn.

The under 21 squad will play their second match today against the Pacific Mini Games training squad and this should be a cracker.

The match will be played at the National Auditorium, beginning at 2pm. There will be a cover charge for entry.

The team will play their final match on Monday at 2pm at the auditorium before returning to New Zealand on early Tuesday morning. - MW