Tonga shock Queens as Malawi settle for silver
Malawi National Netball Team’s sixth ranking in the world is under threat after losing in the final of PacificAus Netball Series to rising Tonga Nation 54-41 in Gold Coast, Australia yesterday.
Queens settled for silver medals on their debut while seventh-ranked Tonga remained undefeated in four international tournaments.
The first two quarters were tight as Malawi appeared to be suffering from burnout after the team’s coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa maintained the line-up for the fifth consecutive match.
Seasoned shooters Sindie Simtowe-Msowoya and Jane Chimaliro were in attack while wing attack Shira Dimba and centre court Takondwa Lwazi were maintained on their positions.
In the defence, the Queens had Grace Mwafulirwa-Mhango, Lauren Ngwira and Martha Dambo.
Tonga, who have been rising steadily on the World Rankings, led 12-11 at the end of the first quarter.
At half time, Tonga Nation were leading narrowly 23-22 in a highly tense match.
In the third quarter, Malawi appeared confused, failing to open up to create spaces as Tonga underlined their growing reputation with solid performances in all the departments.
During this quarter, Queens rested Dimba while Chimaliro dropped from goal attack to wing attack.
Budding shooter Stella Matelezi partnered Simtowe-Msowoya in attack but nothing improved as things got worse.
Tonga Nation led 39-32 at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, things got worse for the Queens due to nervousness committing unnecessary turnovers Chawinga-Kaluwa could not be reached for a comment as her phone was offline but Netball Association of Malawi (Nam) Vice President Chimwemwe Bakali saluted the players.
“We need to prepare well for such tournaments. The girls did very well under the circumstances,” he said.
Tonga finished the series with a perfect record having beat Fiji 68- 52, Singapore 85-40, Kenya 71-44 and Zambia 59-47 in other matches while the Queens lost two matches including their 50-46 defeat to Zambia.
In other matches, the Queens defeated Fiji 54-47 before thrashing Papua New Guinea 64-49 and Samoa 57-39.