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Nations Cup 16 Match Report: Ireland Vs PNG

In what was arguably the most nail-biting contest of the tournament, Papua New Guinea came out narrow 43-41 victors over a plucky Ireland side to book their second consecutive Finals appearance.

Ireland started the match strongly, scoring nine of their eleven attempts. Entering the tournament as the lowest ranked teams, the minnows played well and showed good teamwork and industry – as they have across the week.

Both teams set an electrifying pace as they covered the court quickly, moving the ball with short decisive passes. At the back, both nations relied on a strong and unshakeable defensive foundation, giving the shooters and attackers little room to maneuver. These traits and an appetite for the ball resulted in a closely battled first quarter, at the buzzer Papua New Guinea led by four.

In the second quarter, Papua New Guinea made a host of changes as captain Rikis took on the role of shooter, and athletic Adula moving to centre from wing defence. These changes allowed Papua New Guinea to keep up the pace ensuring Ireland had to give their all to keep up. Despite the pace, the Irish managed to keep up and through their efficient and consistent play managed to snag 10 points trailing by seven at the half.

Halftime proved to be a respite for the Europeans as they gathered their thoughts and actions and came out flying to take the game to Papua New Guinea. Knowing they were in for a fight, the Pepes found themselves having to weather a storm as the Irish rained 19 attempts at their goal. While the conversion rate was a tad under half the pure rhythm and endeavor proved to turn the tide as the quarter ended eight all.

The Irish dominance continued into the fourth quarter as they missed only one of 15 attempts to take the quarter 14-9. Despite this win, the late challenge was not sufficient to overturn the earlier Pepes lead as the Irish fell to a Papua New Guinea buzzer-beater. The final score was 41-43.

With the win, Papua New Guinea ensured a second Final appearance in as many years, earning themselves the opportunity to write history in the Saturday final. A second triumph in the final would draw them level with host Singapore with two Nations Cup titles each.

HIGHLIGHTS

– Ireland made 19 chances in the third quarter
– Ireland won the fourth quarter 14-9
– Papua New Guinea make their second consecutive final
– Tatuaga scored 24 for Ireland, only second to Lua Rikis -26

MATCH STATISTICS

 IrelandPapua New Guinea
Score4143
Total Attempts5752
Goal Percentage72%83%