Sporting drama continued at Samoa 2019 until the final seconds as an injury time strike from centre back Billy Jones saw New Zealand triumph in the men’s football final and clinch the final gold medal of the 16th Pacific Games.
New Zealand had appeared on course for defeat in the last medal event, after trailing to a 55th minute strike from Richard Sele at the J.S. Blatter Soccer Stadium.
The effort had put New Caledonia on course for a fourth consecutive men’s football title.
With four minutes to go, New Zealand’s under-23 team found a levelling from Dane Schnell with the stand in captain heading in from a free-kick.
Jorge Akers, who had set up the equaliser, was then denied a winning goal by last ditch New Caledonia defending as the match headed deep into injury time.
The subsequent corner saw Jones become the hero, as the defender flicked the ball into the New Caledonia net to spark New Zealand celebrations.
The gold marked redemption for New Zealand four years on from Port Moresby, when their men’s football team were thrown out of the competition in the semi-finals after fielding an ineligible player.
Fiji would claim the bronze medal in tense circumstances, after their match went to penalties against Papua New Guinea following a 1-1 draw.
The Fijian team held their nerve to secure a 4-2 victory on penalties to take their place on podium.
Papua New Guinea successfully defended their women’s football title, following a 3-1 victory over hosts Samoa in the gold medal match.
It continued Papua New Guinea’s dominance of the women’s event, having now triumphed in each of the five occasions the sport has featured.
Fiji clinched their second football bronze by overcoming the Cook Islands by the same scoreline.
Fiji and the Cook Islands clashed again on the final day with their women’s 3x3 basketball teams going head-to-head for gold.
The Fijian side would ultimately emerge as comfortable 20-9 winners to finish top of the podium.
Bronze was earned by Tahiti, who recorded a 16-8 victory over New Caledonia.
Guam added the men’s 3x3 title to their victory in the basketball tournament two days ago, as they edged Fiji 20-18 in a thrilling encounter.
Samoa beat the Marshall Islands 19-18 in a tightly fought bronze medal match.
The men’s volleyball title was won in comfortable fashion by Tahiti, who recorded a straight sets 25-23, 25-22, 25-17 win over Wallis and Futuna in straight sets, 25-23, 25-22, 25-17.
Earlier New Caledonia took bronze with a five-set 25-15. 25-27, 20-25, 25-16, 15-10 comeback win over Samoa.