27 Jun 2019

Sport: Fiji netballers well beaten by NZ men

11:17 am on 27 June 2019

The Fiji Pearls have been well and truly outmatched 93-19 against the New Zealand men's team in the opening match of the Cadbury Netball Series in Auckland.

The visitors trailed 11-0 midway through the first quarter and only mustered two goals from four attempts in the opening period, as they struggled throughout the match to get the ball into the shooting circle, giving away 29 intercepts and 59 turnovers.

Vice captain Asilika Sevutia told Sky Sport it was a completely new challenge for the team coming up against a men's side.

"The biggest challenge is the height and physicality (and) the aerial balls," she said. "It has taught us so much tonight about controlling the ball and cut back on the error passes. We have learnt a lot from the men tonight and we are so thankful to be playing them."

Fiji recently won a test series in Singapore and secured the gold medal at the Arafura Games in Darwin (above).

Fiji recently won a test series in Singapore and secured the gold medal at the Arafura Games in Darwin (above). Photo: Netball Fiji

Defender Episake Kahatoka was a bright spot for the Pearls, nabbing six interceptions in the Ferns shooting circle.

Sevutia said they tried to move quickly and play short passes to combat the size and reach advantage of the men.

"I think punching in for the ball, coming for the ball instead of the long passes, high balls - we came up for the ball and I think that is what worked and got us to score some goals."

Fiji are back in action tonight against an All Stars selection who were beaten 61-45 by the Silver Ferns.

Pearls head coach Vicki Wilson said the most important thing for the Pearls was the opportunity for more match-play as they prepared for the World Cup in Liverpool.

The All Stars squad would have a point to prove after missing out on the Silver Ferns World Cup squad, Wilson said.

"I remember when Australia used to pick the Australia A side and we played a test series against them prior to going away to Birmingham in 1995 and we lost the series 3-0," laughed the former Australia captain. "They came out and just whopped us - it wasn't just by one or two goals."

Fiji netball coach Vicki Wilson.

Fiji netball coach Vicki Wilson. Photo: Netball Fiji

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