Samoa vs Samoa in netball exhibition clash
Netball Samoa's World Cup team defeated its Pacific Games team, 45-55, in an exhibition match on Friday night, in the first ever fixture at the new Multi-Sport Complex in Tuana'imato.
They led the game from start to finish, however the Pacific Games squad put up a greater fight than was perhaps anticipated, and trailed by just five goals at one point in the fourth quarter.
Pacific Games team coach Seraphine Mataia said she was very happy with the performance, and there are a lot of positives to draw from it.
“Our team goals that we’ve set for this game have all been achieved.
“I believe and we all still believe that there’s a lot of room for us to improve."
She said the team will look to tidy things up in training over the next couple of weeks before the Games tournament begins, having now seen what they have been working on in a game situation.
All twelve players on the roster got plenty of court-time, as Mataia made substitutions early and often.
She said the starting lineup for the Pacific Games is anything but fixed, and the whole point of the game was to try out different combinations.
“What’s working, why is it working, how can we better it."
Mataia said she hopes the World Cup team are a level above her side's Pacific Games opposition.
“We weren’t able to match the speed of the ball, we weren’t able to match the fitness."
She thanked everyone for coming out to support for the game, and all the organisers and sponsors that made the match happen.
“Hopefully we will see the same support come Pacific Games."
World Cup team coach Frances Solia said she thought the Pacific Games team did a really good job.
"They were solid out there, and I thought they probably taught our team one or two lessons.
"Which is really good, we needed that grounding, that kind of checkpoint to see where we are before we go."
She said coming in she wanted to know whether the team could execute a gameplan under pressure, and be disciplined in their gameplan on attack.
“Sometimes we did, it wasn’t consistent enough."
Solia said her team expected to be able to play at an even faster pace.
“We demand that from each other, we’re trying to keep striving to be better.
“I know our team will be disappointed… we’re way better.
“Wanting to play the perfect game, and because they wanted to play the perfect game so much, you tend to make a little bit more mistakes than what you should’ve.
“And that’s going to be a discussion we have tonight."
She credits the Pacific Games team for not allowing them to play to their potential, which serves as an important lesson that the World Cup side won't always have everything their own way.
“Had we not done this, we’d be going in, I think, to Liverpool with a bit of false [confidence]."
The World Cup team have a practice match against Singapore on the 10th of July, before their World Cup opener against Scotland on the 12th (13th Samoan time), and Solia said it was better having that wake-up call now than closer to the tournament.
She said they want to beat 2015's World Cup result of tenth place.
“I think we’ve got a good enough team to really challenge for top eight, so that’s the goal."
Solia said the team has been training really hard to make that happen.
"It’s taken us 17 months to get fitness right, on point."