Tonga outclass Zimbabwe

Tonga hung on for a hard-fought 54-46 victory over Zimbabwe at the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town on Sunday.

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This was the first meeting between Zimbabwe and Tonga at a World Cup. It was goal defence Felistus Kwangwa 100th test for Zimbabwe, she is the first player to achieve this status.

The Gems have five players who played at the last World Cup in Liverpool in 2019 – Kwanga, Sharon Bwanali, Claris Kwaramba, Sharleen Makusha and Joice Takaidza.

The match began with an intense and fast-paced first quarter, as both teams displayed great athleticism and skill.

Zimbabwe initially created brilliant attacking moves and converted them into early goals, with shooters Sharon Bwanali and Tafadzwa Matura scoring at a 100%.

The Gems’ sharp passing put added pressure on the Tongan defence and they took an early lead. However, the Tala’s then started dishing out some of the same medicine and ended the first quarter three goals ahead.

The next 15 minutes saw the momentum stay with Tonga as defenders Mo’onia Gerrard and Kelea Iongi made it difficult for the Zimbabwean attackers to create openings.

Tonga’s mid-court players further took control of the game, capitalising on turnovers and converting them into vital goals.



The Gems did manage to pull it back somewhat in the last minutes before halftime, but Tonga went into the break still leading 27-24.

The second half of the match was a seesaw battle, with both teams refusing to give an inch and with Zimbabwe determined not to suffer a third successive defeat in Cape Town.

The Gems continued applying pressure on Tonga’s attacking play as the Islanders were trying to move through the court and feed the ball into their goal circle.

Tonga’s shooters, however, remained composed and made sure of the chances to score that did come their way.

As the final 15 minutes began, Zimbabwe found themselves trailing by nine goals. They tried to stage a comeback and cause a possible upset against a team ranked six places higher on the latest world rankings.

The clock, however, was against them. The Tala’s managed the game’s tempo and their strategic ball control prevented the Gems from mounting a successful challenge.

Zimbabwe did outscore Tonga by one goal in the fourth quarter.

Zimbabwean coach Ropafadzo Mutsauki made several changes throughout the match in an effort to swing proceedings in his side’s favour. It didn’t have the necessary impact though, despite possession evenly shared between both teams.

Most Valuable Player: Kelea Iongi (Tonga)
Goal Shooting Percentage: Tonga 93.1% / Zimbabwe 88.5%
Penalty Count (Contact and Obstruction) : Tonga 41 / Zimbabwe 55
Quarter scores: 14-11 / 27-24 / 42-33 / 54-46

Source: | SuperSport

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