Fiji put up a strong showing in the third quarter to level the scores, but it was not enough to rattle the Malawians, who had built a formidable lead and held on to register a 62-48 victory in their Netball World Cup 2023 encounter in Cape Town last night.
The Pearls started well in the first quarter, managing to pull back a goal each time Malawi scored. However, midway through the interval, backed by a vocal crowd and with great passing and shooting accuracy from Joyce Mvula, as well as turnovers created by the combo of Jane Dambo and Towera Vinkhumbo, the winners scored nine unanswered goals to take a 20-10 lead.
Malawi maintained their tenacity in the second quarter, resulting in a comfortable 36-23 scoreline at half-time.
In the third quarter, Fiji Pearls coach Unaisi Rokoura made several changes that brought renewed energy and physicality to match up to the Malawians. This strategy paid off as they managed to level the scores at 11-11.
Heading into the final 15 minutes, Malawi’s mid-courters showcased great ball control, created more scoring opportunities, and limited Fiji’s counterattacks, ultimately sealing their third victory in the competition, while handing Fiji their third loss.
In their only previous meeting at a NWC in Christchurch in 1999, Malawi had beaten the Pearls 68-45. More recently, in April 2023, the Queens defeated the Pearls 54-47 at the Pacific-Aus Series on the Australian Gold Coast.
The Fiji Pearls will take a day’s break before returning to the court early tomorrow to face England at 6 am, before matching up against Scotland at 9 pm on August 3.
Photo: Netball Fiji