Samoa, Cook Islands netballers make winning starts

Samoa and the Cook Islands have made a winning start to the Netball World Cup Oceania Qualifiers in Auckland.

Samoa beat Tonga 56-41 in the opening match in Papakura last night, before the Cook Islands edged Papua New Guinea 54-51.

The region's top ranked side, Fiji, had a first round bye after competing at the Commonwealth Games.

The Pearls failed to win a game on the Gold Coast and coach Vicki Wilson said she's expecting strong competition from their Pacific rivals.

"Well I know Samoa will be drawing on all the experienced players in New Zealand," she said

"Most of them play (the second tier) Beko League. Cook Islands are doing the same and also bringing in a lot of Brisbane girls and PNG are also bringing in a number of Brisbane-based players, plus five girls from PNG.

"So I can proudly say that the team that we had (at the Commonwealth Games) are all from Fiji, all over the islands, so it's really important that we keep on building that depth."

Fiji face Tonga first up today while Samoa face Papua New Guinea.

The top two teams will qualify for next year's World Cup in Liverpool.