Pacific sports weekend update

(March 25, 2022) Moana Pasifika players rejoice after win over Wellington Hurricanes. PHOTO: Moana Pasifika Rugby

SOCCER: Solomon Is. and NZ in World Cup qualifiers Grand Final

The stage is set for one last epic showdown in Qatar as Solomon Islands looks to take on the star laced New Zealand side.

Both are coming off impressive semi-finals matches. Solomon Islands narrowly defeated Papua New Guinea 3 -2, and New Zealand escaped with a 1 – 0 victory over a very determined Tahiti side.

Captain Felix Komolong drew first blood for PNG and was determined to maintain their lead. Komolong was instrumental throughout the game and showcased his vigilant defensive efforts.

However, despite the constant pressure, Solomon Islands fought hard to level the game through Alvin Hou – who was looking dangerous throughout the session. Hou scored two impressive doubles and Raphael Lea’i slotted in the third goal. Combined with the team’s relentless defence, it was these two men who were the stars for the Solomon Islanders.

The see-saw battle continued throughout the game as PNG mounted one last attack and managed to score through Ati Kepo in the 88th minute.

It could have gone to extra-time, but the Solomon Islands held on tightly and came out on top.

New Zealand did not have an easy semi-final either, as Tahiti fought hard for a place in the final.

Both sides were intense in defence and as a result, only a single goal was scored in the entire 90 minutes, although, the 1 – 0 deficit was enough to take New Zealand through to the final.

Netball: Tonga celebrates momentous win in PacificAus Sports Series

Tonga claimed gold after securing a 60-52 victory against the Fiji Pearls today at the PacificAus Sports Netball Series grand finale in Sydney.

Both teams were consistent in the first quarter and pushed each other.

While Fiji Pearls’ wing-defence Ateca Qasenivalu continued to apply pressure on the opponents, Tonga proved to be more decisive as they managed to burst into a 30-26 lead during half-time.

The pressure was intensified in the second half as the players started to be more physical.

Captain Alisi Naqiri and Ema Mualuvu fought hard to keep the Tonga shooter from scoring, but their rivals kept improving their set-plays and proved difficult to be stopped.

Fiji made some significant adjustments in the second half, but it was not enough as Tonga triumphed with fantastic shooting from the duo of Uneeq Palavi and Marie Hansen.

Palavi was awarded the Grand Final MVP medal while captain Hulita Veve and Uneeq Palavi shared the Series MVP award.

The series marked the first time the teams have competed in an international competition since the pandemic started and served as an opportunity to analyse their strategies before the Oceania Netball World Cup Qualifiers scheduled to take place in Fiji in July.

Rugby: Moana Pasifika claim historic Super Rugby win

Replacement Danny Toala scored a try in the fifth minute of golden-point extra time to give Moana Pasifika their first-ever Super Rugby win, beating the Hurricanes 24-19.

Coming off a 59-12 loss to the Chiefs last weekend, the Super Rugby Pacific newcomers were given no chance of beating the Hurricanes on Friday night despite their home advantage in Auckland.

Though they lacked possession and were camped in their own territory for most of the match, Moana Pasifika matched the Hurricanes try for try and grabbed the crucial score when the match became only the second in Super Rugby to be decided in extra time.

In a chequered season disrupted by COVID-19, they had played only two matches in five rounds before Friday’s match gave them their historic first win.

“We had to work hard from last week and we showed pride and passion,” said Moana Pasifika captain and Wallabies great Sekope Kepu. 

“We worked really hard in the pre-season and we knew we had it in us. We just had to string it together tonight.”

The teams were tied 19 points apiece before the Toala special moment happened.

Replacement prop Tau Koloamatangi forced a critical turnover with Moana Pasifika in deep defence. The ball moved to Toala and he kicked into space behind the Hurricanes’ defensive line. Rushing forward, he was able to kick the ball ahead and regain it, diving through the defence to score.

With this historic first win, things start to look promising for the Super Rugby newcomers as they take on the Auckland Blues at Mt. Smart Stadium, 29 March 6:05 FT.

Late Drua surge not enough against Rebels.

Melbourne have cracked their first win of the Super Rugby Pacific season, getting revenge on Fijian Drua with a spirited 42-27 victory at AAMI Park.

The Rebels were third-round losers to the Drua, but delivered their best performance of the season on Friday night to end a 10-game losing streak dating back to last season.

First five Teti Tela also kicked successful penalties to keep the Drua in contention and take the game to the wire.

Replacement flanker Kitione Salawa made a significant impact when he came in and rallied his side to a comeback.

The Fijians scored two late tries in three minutes but Rebels reserve prop Cameron Orr countered before fulltime to seal the win.

Now, with only one win out of six games, Fijian Drua coach Mick Byrne says the team will need to be on par when they take on the Waratahs again.

Last time the two sides met was in round one, where the Tahs came out victors beating the Drua 40-10.

Byrne said they know it will get more competitive as the season progresses.

“Internally we believe we could be in front of where we are at. And the results last week showed that. We are not where we would have been.”

The Drua will play the NSW Waratahs on Friday, 1 April at 8:45pm at Robina Stadium.

Weightlifting: Feagaiga Stowers sets 3 new Oceania records

Samoan champion weightlifter Feagaiga Stowers has set three new Oceania records on her way to taking out the best overall female placing in the Oceania Online Cup 2022.

The new Oceania records are snatch 121kg and clean and jerk 155kg for a total of 276kg, which are three new records for the region. 

President of the Samoa Weightlifting Federation, Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork, told the Samoa Observer on Sunday how proud he was of Stowers’ achievements.

“Fantastic performance by Feagaiga and she’s on the right path to win gold at the  Birmingham Commonwealth Games in July,” Tuaopepe said. “She’s improved greatly and is very focused and achieving her dream.”

The regional virtual tournament was held on Saturday with Stowers taking out the top spot with a total of 276kg and in the process set three new Oceania records.

Stowers is part of Samoa’s weightlifting team that will depart for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in the United Kingdom on 15 July. Others in the team include Don Opeloge, Jack Opeloge, Nevo Ioane, John Tafi, and Petelo Lautusi.

The team’s attendance at the Commonwealth Games in July will mark their first international tournament in two years after they withdrew from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics last year due to Samoa Government’s concerns over COVID-19 pandemic.

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