Samoa dim Jewels’ shine

Namibia lost their opening Pacific Netball Series match to Samoa on Monday. Photo: Netball Australia

The Desert Jewels went down 55-47 to Samoa in their Pacific Netball Series opener in Brisbane, Australia yesterday.

Namibian trailed 17-11 after the first quarter, before edging the second 11-12.

However, Samoa won the next quarter 16-13, with the teams sharing the final set 11 all.

Jewels vice captain Cornelia Mupenda feels the team gave it as good as they got.

“I really want to speak on the game plan, because that’s one thing that we lost in the third quarter, but otherwise, it was good,” Mupenda says.

The Jewels are keen to leave a position imprint on the competition, with Mupenda confident that the team will put on a better showing against Tonga today.

The Tongans got their campaign of to a winning start, beating the host nation’s invitational side 62-50.

Finishing in the top two in the tournament, in which Namibia is the lowest ranked, would represent a successful tour, Mupenda says.

“It’s a big, big opportunity and we don’t want to take it for granted. But, anyway, we feel good. The game was good. It was hard, but we really pushed until the last quarter. So, yeah, I’m really proud of the girls,” Mupenda says.

“So, we just wanna work hard and get there. For people watching at home, we will make them proud. We came so far just not to participate to be able to compete.”

Head coach Julene Meyer was relatively satisfied with the Jewels effort and believes they will be better going forward.

“I think overall, I’m happy with the way the girls played, a loss by the margin of seven. We were competitive for two of those quarters, winning one quarter and drawing one, which I think are big positives for us to take out of it,” Meyer says.

“We need to remember it’s the first time these players are exposed to the island style, which is the global style of netball,” she says.

Holders Fiji got their title defence off to a positive start, seeing off Singapore 67-52 in another encounter on the opening day.

Meyer feels the difference between victory and defeat was a combination of nerves and not having enough self-belief.

“We’re going to learn a lot and we’re going to grow a lot. I believe on our own play, our centre pass conversions are not where it’s supposed to be. Our centre passes and our attacking play were very congested,” Meyer says.

“In terms of our defence, we still struggle to get around for the ball,” she says.

“I’m happy with the performance. Tomorrow, we take on Tonga, which is ranked number eight in the world, so it doesn’t get any easier. All the players are fine, no serious injuries. And, yes, we’re looking forward to the rest of the tournament,” Meyer says.

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