Pepes’ young side were pushed to the edge by a very physical Tongan netball side.
The gold medal play off in the netball finals at the VAN2017 Pacific Mini Games was between PNG and Tonga – both teams undefeated.
Tonga took on Solomon Islands in their first encounter while PNG took on Vanuatu…this time though, the two nations came out with all guns blazing.
Tonga had the bigger and taller players, causing PNG to trail in the opening quarter 17 goals to 12.
However, PNG’s fighting spirit kicked in after that as they exchanged goal for goal, levelling the score.
Tonga were banking on their towering goal shooter to get the job done and PNG suffered from her continuous scoring, with goal keeper Lua Rikis trying in vain to contain her.
With more work from PNG centre Nerrie Adula and Jackie Lahari, PNG shooting duo of Rayleen Andrews and Japhet Tulapi tried to plot the much-needed goals.
It wasn’t until the half time break that PNG made a crucial change to the defending circle to switch ends for Japhet Tulapi from Goal Attack to Goal Defence.
The change proved worthy as PNG’s defence mounted on the lanky Tongan shooter, forcing some unwanted errors.
PNG Pepes’ young crop of players coming through the ranks proved that with the right guidance, they are capable of delivering for PNG netball.