The Samoans beat Fiji 53-42 to secure 13th place today, having been dominant in the round-robin Group E, made up of the teams who finished bottom of their initial Preliminaries stage one groups.
A dominant second quarter – which they won 14-3 – helped Samoa to victory, and Williams was delighted with that spell of the game.
“To be honest in that second quarter I had no idea what the score was, and I thought we were down – that’s the intensity we needed to play with!
“I didn’t know we’d blown out the lead, but it’s always hard coming out in the second half knowing you’ve got that lead and knowing they’re going to come back. So it took a bit of composure and thank goodness we got the win!”
Samoa’s 13th-place finish was the best they could have hoped for after finishing bottom of Group D.
Of their overall performance in the tournament, Williams added:
“We’re still disappointed it didn’t go our way. We came here hoping for top eight, but unfortunately the draw didn’t allow for the bottom eight teams to battle that out.
“But we finished with four wins and we finished on a high, and 13th was the best we could get, so I’m proud of the girls for that.”
In a game which saw momentum swing on multiple occasions, the Samoans’ dominant second quarter was ultimately the difference as they ran out 53-42 winners.
The match carried with it extra significance, after the previous meeting between the teams had ended 55-54 to the Samoans, with Fiji denied a last-gasp goal which was adjudged to have been scored too late.
Lydia Panapasa, who thought she had scored that late equaliser, started on the bench for Fiji, but her team-mates began with a real flourish, racing into a 3-0 lead.
Matila Vocea and Unaisi Rauluni kept up their intensity as the advantage went out to six at 9-3, while Adi Vakaoca Bolakoro and Kelera Nawai were also combining well at the other end of the court to limit Samoa’s opportunities.
The Samoans eventually found their rhythm though, and narrowed the gap by scoring five consecutive goals to bring the scoreline back to 11-10.
The they turned the ball over, but carelessly gave away possession again by taking a backline pass too early and allowing Vocea the opportunity to stretch the lead back out to two, at 13-11 at the end of the first quarter.
Clearly stung by losing the first quarter, Samoa quickly levelled proceedings in the second, through Toa Tanimo. After a scrappy phase of play, they really seized the initiative, quickly taking the score out to 18-14.
Panapasa made her entrance with five minutes of the quarter gone, as Fiji tried to address the dramatic swing in momentum. She failed to make an immediate impression though, missing her first attempt of the game.
Samoa, by contrast, had moved up a gear, and a flurry of interceptions allowed them to turnover play on a regular basis, extending their lead to eight, at 24-16.
The frustration was getting to the Fijians, which was reflected as Panapasa allowed the ball to slip through her grip in the circle, setting up another Samoan attack. With the clock having ticked right down, Sanita To’o missed the opportunity to crown a glorious second quarter for Samoa with another goal, however they went in at the break in a comfortable position, leading 25-16.
Samoa kept that momentum initially in the third quarter, stretching their lead out to ten, at 29-19. However a lengthy stoppage in play to allow Soli Ropati to receive treatment after a particularly heavy-looking fall disrupted the early rhythm in the quarter, and it would be Fiji who seized the opportunity to find some form of their own.
Much better, more flowing play from the Fijians at one stage saw a much more effective Panapasa score five consecutive goals, bringing the deficit right down to five at 36-31. It could have got even closer, but a wild pass from Alisi Galo allowed Samoa to regain both possession and some composure, closing the quarter with two quickfire goals to take their lead back out to 38-31.
Samoa again began a quarter well, taking the first two goals of the fourth. Fiji then came roaring back though, with Panapasa again proving their most effective option as they slowly ate into the deficit yet again.
After a collision between Rauluni and Gene Solia-Gibb, then Fijian goal attack limped away – clearly struggling – to set up Panapasa for another goal, as the gap came down to five at 42-37.
Errors then crept in again though, including a fumble in the circle by Panapasa when she was ideally positioned under the post on her own.
Samoa regained an element of control, and were able to see the game out 53-42 to ensure they took that 13th spot.
Samoa’s Brooke Williams said:
“We didn’t want to put ourselves in that situation again (winning the previous meeting by one) so we knew we had to come out hard and cherish the ball we had. It got a bit rough there towards the end, but we had the composure and I’m really proud of the girls.”
The game pitted top against bottom in Group E, and that difference in placings so far at the competition was reflected on the court.
Having lost against both Sri Lanka and Fiji prior to this game, Singapore are still looking for their first win of the tournament and never looked likely to find it here.
Samoa won all three of the previous meetings at a World Cup between the teams – including by seven goals at the last tournament in Sydney – and were in no mood to see that record taken away from them.
In the first quarter, it was clear from the start which side was going to take home the points. As much as Singapore did well in possession under pressure at times, Samoa were more ruthless and visibly crisper with their passes.
Lenora Misa was Player of the Match as Samoa beat Sri Lanka yesterday, producing a perfect template for dealing with tournament top-scorer Tharjini Sivalingam. Misa, today winning her fifth cap for her country, was impressive once again, though her game was not tested to anywhere close to the same level against Singapore’s Xinyi Tan and Charmaine Soh.
The gap at the end of the first quarter was only seven goals, but the gulf in quality was evident. That goal difference was set to increase as the game played out, and by the end of the second period, Samoa had scored 15 more times to Singapore’s 12.
Singapore battled and netted three times in the space of 90 seconds, but that only encouraged their opponents to restore their buffer. As quickly as Singapore had led by two in the quarter, they were pegged back once again.
Having only won one quarter at the tournament so far, it was not long before Singapore had allowed Samoa to get back into rhythm. Goal shooter Toa Tanimo was already over 20 goals for the game and at half-time, the Group E leaders led the match by a scoreline of 31-21.
The second half of the game followed much the same pattern as the first had, though Singapore very nearly got a second quarter-win at the tournament in the penultimate 15-minute period.
Only a goal in the very last second from Tanimo to make it 13-13 in the third quarter prevented Singapore from achieving that minor victory, albeit one that would have made little difference in this match overall.
Singapore’s wing attack Kimberly Lim, making her sixth appearance at the tournament and her 84th for her country overall, reappeared on court for the final quarter, having also played in the second. Her creative skills, though, were not sufficient to drive Singapore back into contention.
Tanimo finished the match having converted 45 goals from 48 attempts, and her side won the final quarter by 19 goals to 15, the highest-scoring quarter of the game.
Samoa’s 13th-place play-off against Fiji – set to be a fascinating encounter – will take place on Friday morning. Singapore will have one final chance to get their first win of the competition, as they play Sri Lanka in the 15th-place play-off during the same session.
Player of the Match, Tee Salanoa, said:
“I’m really happy (with the performance today). Our game-plan was to start strong and finish strong. We had a really good start and we really pushed it out in the last quarter.”
Fiji beat Sri Lanka today to set up a repeat of one of the most dramatic games of the tournament so far: they will now play Samoa for the right to finish 13th, having lost out to them by a single goal earlier on in the competition.
Fiji – through Lydia Panapasa – thought they had levelled proceedings up in the final seconds on that occasion, but the goal was adjudged to have been scored just too late to count, meaning that Samoa took a 55-54 victory.
“There are always thoughts of revenge – we want to win,” said Wilson, after her team’s victory over Sri Lanka.
“To be the best team in that Oceania region – apart from New Zealand – is something we’ve been wanting and been talking about, so if we can achieve that it would be great.
“A day’s rest and a good recovery is what we need now, and then we look forward to having that opportunity to battle it out with Samoa again.”
Today’s 59-44 victory was Fiji’s second in the tournament after their win over Singapore yesterday, and Wilson is delighted with the way her team have grown into their task.
“I’m really pleased. We’ve been getting better with every game, which was what we came in wanting achieve. I thought defensively today we got a lot more ball, and that put us in a great position going into that second half.”
On the injuries suffered by Panapasa and Episake Kahatoka, Wilson added:
“I haven’t spoken to the medical team yet, so fingers crossed they’re not too serious.”
Tasked with marking the tournament’s tallest player and top goalscorer, Tharjini Sivalingam, Misa excelled, recording 11 interceptions as the Samoans ran out 65-55 winners.
A series of athletic interventions helped prevent the ball reaching Sivalingam as much as the Sri Lankans would have liked, as Misa and her team-mates recorded their second win in two days.
Afterwards, she said:
“I don’t think I’m a high jumper – I was just trying to get up as high as I can. (Playing against Sivalingam) was obviously a challenge. It was really hard. I don’t think I’ve come across (an opponent) as tall as her so it was really hard, but the pressure at the front made my job a lot easier.
“It was about putting pressure up at the front so that way we could force the ball back. The girls at the front put heaps of pressure on the ball. It feels good.”
Their two successive Group E wins mean that Samoa are guaranteed a place in Friday’s play-off to decide the 13th-placed team at the Vitality Netball World Cup, and Misa says confidence has been boosted.
“We took that win (yesterday) and took today as a new day – a brand new game. We just wanted to go out and do the same thing. We came out strong: started strong and finished strong. We played our normal game.
“I think confidence went up (after yesterday’s victory). We just played our own game and keep doing that. We have Singapore tomorrow so hopefully we finish strong.”
Samoan goal keeper Lenora Misa – the Player of the Match – in particular impressed, registering 11 interceptions against the obvious threat of the tournament’s top scorer Tharjini Sivalingam.
Sri Lanka beat Singapore by 38 goals yesterday to record their highest ever score at a World Cup – and their first win at a World Cup since matchday one in 2015, a 12-match losing streak – and topped the group involving the four bottom-placed stage one sides going into day five of the tournament.
Samoa, though, had won all five meetings between the teams at World Cups previously – and that 100% record continued.
Sivalingam, who shot 76 out of 78 (97% accuracy) against Singapore on Monday, continued her excellent scoring form as she netted all 16 goals scored by Sri Lanka in the opening quarter.
Misa, winning her fourth cap having made her debut at the World Cup, was kept busy and initially struggled to deal with the significant height difference between the pair.
After an incredibly end-to-end and flowing encounter across the first 15 minutes, Sri Lanka led 17-13. That ebb and flow to the match was something that was set to continue.
The high intensity extended into the second period, though the quality, particularly from Sivalingam, waned a little as Misa began to make interceptions on a regular basis. The goal shooter missed four chances to score early in the second quarter, which only increased Samoa’s confidence.
Sivalingam was punished by Samoa at the other end, as they won the period 19-10, and took the lead in the game overall, five goals clear at the halfway mark.
Samoa’s excellent interchanges and the clinical nature of goal shooter Toa Tanimo, who scored 21 times from 22 shots in the opening two quarters, meant they had edged the first half.
Samoa, keen to maintain the momentum built up from the previous 15 minutes, soon opened up an eight-goal advantage early in the third quarter.
Sri Lanka, though, were not prepared to go down without a fight, as they notched three times in quick succession themselves courtesy of Sivalingam.
As the quarter progressed though, it was Samoa who extended their lead, as they quickened the pace and got the ball forward to goal shooter Tanimo more quickly. Tanimo converted on 42 occasions throughout the match, missing just three times, and it was her goals that fired Samoa further into the lead.
The gap was 12 goals at its largest during the third quarter, but by the end of it, Sivalingam’s conversions had pulled that back slightly to nine.
Goal attack Dulangi Wannithileka got onto the scoresheet for Sri Lanka as they cut the deficit to seven at one stage in the final quarter, but time was running out fast. With more and more urgency in attack, holes were left in defence which Samoa exploited on the counter-attack.
Sri Lanka won the final quarter by 17 goals to 13, but it was insufficient. Samoa took wins in each of the first three quarters and deservedly earned the two points.
In the final match of the second group stage, Sri Lanka will face Fiji, while Samoa will play Singapore. Both of those games will take place in session 11, on Wednesday morning, before the placings begin on Friday.
With just seconds remaining, the Fijians turned the ball over in their own defensive third and worked possession rapidly to Lydia Panapasa, who finished the move off but a split second too late. The goal did not stand and Samoa were able to celebrate the narrowest of wins – their first of the tournament.
The teams came into the meeting off the back of three defeats in Preliminaries stage one, and their previous head-to-head record at World Cups – two wins apiece – hinted at the evenly-matched nature of the contest.
Samoa got off to a fast start, scoring six unanswered goals. Once Fiji found their feet though, the shooting of Panapasa and Unaisi Rauluni inspired a spectacular first-quarter comeback, and ensured the second half of the quarter was far more even, and finished 18-16 to the Samoans.
A goal from Sanita To’o pushed that lead out to three early in the second quarter, and history repeated itself as the Samoans again scored six without reply. Fiji again found their feet late in the quarter, but slipped further behind as the half-time whistle blew with Samoa boasting a healthy 33-20 advantage.
A much stronger start to the third quarter spurred the Fijians on, and they began to grow further in confidence as they ate away at Samoa’s advantage. After drawing level, Rauluni scored the goal which saw them go in front for the first time, at 40-39. They ended the quarter 42-40 up.
Precision shooting from Toa Tanimo and Tee Salanoa saw Samoa roar back into contention in the early stages of the final quarter, and the teams could barely be separated as they continued to trade goals. It was Samoa who broke that pattern to go 49-47 clear.
They held an advantage until the final few seconds, seemingly able to keep safe possession and run down the clock to keep their one-goal lead. However Fiji intercepted, broke down court and were denied a sensational tie by the smallest of margins.
Lydia Panapasa said:
“I think the last shot was in, but the girls did really great – we put all our effort into the game and played to the last whilst which is really positive.
“I feel we need to work on getting our rhythm in the first quarter, as the last quarter is always a do-or-die quarter. We should do that in the first quarter instead.”
Tracey Neville’s side were once again backed by a raucous home crowd at the M&S Bank Arena but the biggest cheer of the morning came before the game had even begun when Layla Guscoth, ruled out for the rest of the tournament after rupturing her left Achilles against Scotland, emerged courtside to sit on the bench with the rest of her teammates.
The two sides had faced each other three times in the World Cup, with England winning all three, and the last meeting had come in 2015 with England comfortable victors on that day.
On this occasion, England got into their attacking stride quickly as they raced into a 4-0 lead with their fluid passing proving too much for their opponents.
Samoa eventually began to settle, and the two sides started to trade goals with the goal shooters on both sides, Jo Harten for England and Toa Tanimo for Samoa, shooting at 100% in the opening exchanges.
As the quarter wore on, England began to impose themselves on Samoa, forcing 12 turnovers as they built a commanding lead which had extended to 15 by the end of the period. Harten continued her efficient shooting making all 15 of her goal attempts as the first quarter finished 22-7.
Samoa were finding scoring opportunities much harder to come by as England’s defensive play, led by Geva Mentor and Eboni Usoro-Brown, seemed to get better and better as the half went on, limiting Samoa to just five goal attempts in the entire second quarter.
It was Harten who continued to be the star of the show, however, as she finished the half with 100% shooting. She made all 31 of her goal attempts as England went into half time with a 43-11 lead.
As has been the case for the majority of the tournament, Tracey Neville continued to make changes, and after Rachel Dunn replaced Harten at half time she instantly picked up where she left off against Scotland, scoring two quickfire goals.
Samoa also made changes themselves as goal attack Eseta Autagavaia started the third quarter well, making her first two goal attempts to keep the scoreboard ticking over for her side.
Dunn and Natalie Haythornthwaite continued to build on the Roses’ lead, but Samoa also enjoyed their joint-best scoring quarter as they made seven of their eight goal attempts with Tee Salanoa and Autagavaia shooting a combined 87.5%.
Entering the fourth quarter with a 65-18 lead, the Roses continued to mix and match different combinations and it was a much more even start to the final period.
Once again though, England began to dominate as the minutes ticked by and Dunn and Harten, who returned from the bench for the fourth quarter, continued their shooting form to lead the Roses to victory.
Victory for England means they advance to Group G of Preliminaries Stage Two with six points, whilst Samoa move into Group E to join Singapore as they search for their first win.
England’s Jo Harten said:
“We just had some fun out there today, letting the ball go, off the pass, off the shot and it was a good win and a good performance.
“We had to respect Samoa. We put out a really strong team and we had to get off to a good start but once we had the jitters and the nerves out the way we were just having fun out there.
“The crowd were awesome. I don’t think I’ve played in front of a home crowd like that before. Every goal, every pass – you could feel them playing it with us. They’re really getting behind us not just in the arena but around the country.”
The two sides have previous experience at multiple World Cups, but prior to this had never competed against one other at this level.
It was Uganda who settled quickest into the match as they raced into the lead. Goal shooter Mary Nuba Cholock and goal attack Stella Oyella – the first player ever to be sent off in a World Cup match yesterday against England – scored seven times between them inside the opening four minutes.
The former, in particular, was left unmarked far too easily for the Samoan coaching staff’s liking, collecting the ball and converting with ease at times.
By the end of the first quarter, the Uganda attackers’ movement to outfox Samoa’s Gene Solia-Gibb and Rachel Rasmussen and their clinical finishing – missing just twice between them – saw Uganda take a 22-11 lead.
Samoan goal shooter Tee Salanoa converted eight of her nine opportunities – with Sanita To’o also scoring three – but Uganda were largely in possession, limiting their opponents to fewer chances than they were treated to themselves.
In the second 15 minutes, Samoa’s Ariana Luamanu, who turned 17 less than a fortnight ago and is the World Cup’s youngest player, entered the field of play.
As a consequence of her introduction or otherwise, Samoa’s performance improved as they scored 12 times – one more than in the first quarter – and limited Uganda to four fewer goals than their opening segment, although the match leaders did still further increase their advantage.
At the halfway mark in the match, Uganda led 40-23 and were thoroughly in control of the contest.
The third quarter could have seen Uganda press home that advantage and really stamp their authority on the tie, but Samoa once again limited them to fewer goals than in the previous quarter.
The decision to hold what they had rather than expend unnecessary energy on really pinning Samoa back proved to be a wise one, as Uganda headed into the final quarter of the game 24 goals clear.
With that cushion, Cholock was replaced for the final 15 minutes – ending the match having converted 35 of her 40 attempts – with the goal shooter’s work complete.
Samoa produced an admirable, battling showing in the final quarter, scoring 15 times and conceding only 12 to close the deficit to 21 goals, but the match finished 69-48 to Uganda, with their lead gathered in the first half sufficient for them to glide home to victory.
Uganda will face Scotland in their Group D fixture on Sunday, with the game now promising to be enthralling battle to finish second in the group, while Samoa face a significant challenge in the form of England.
In a hard-fought match which brought the curtain down on day 1 of the tournament, Samoa put in a solid opening quarter, only for Scotland to assert their dominance in the middle period of the match.
The first quarter started with both sides trading three early goals apiece. A burst from the Thistles saw them establish the first significant lead of the match, but a miss under the net allowed Samoa to come back. Two goals separated the teams at the end of the first quarter, with the one of the closest ties of the day in prospect.
Scotland were the first to open the scoring in the second quarter, but were then fortunate that the interception of their centre pass was not punished.
Samoan goal shooter Toa Tanimo was enjoying a prolific spell in front of goal, helping to bring the scoreline back to 15-14. However, good combination play by the Thistles attacking duo of Bethan Goodwin and Lynsey Gallagher helped Scotland to establish an eight-goal lead at the break.
Scotland started the second half in the same manner as they had left off, with confident interplay seeing them push the score out to 27-17. Samoa, by contrast, were struggling to string passes together and the deficit grew to 14.
Samoa goal attack Eseta Autagavaia picked up a rare goal on what was a frustrating day for her, but Scotland added another to finish the quarter with a 41-26 advantage.
Scotland pressed ahead in the fourth quarter, stretching their lead to a comfortable winning margin before acknowledging their vocal support.
Scotland centre Claire Maxwell said:
“The World Cup is fantastic, the atmosphere in there was brilliant. There were patches where we were excellent. If we can keep going and raising our game, we will be pleased. We did our research really well and got better and better through the game. The first quarter… maybe it was nerves, but we did not get our flow going. From the second quarter onwards, we really got into our groove.”