Netball: Singapore edge Malaysia

The seventh edition of the Nations Cup tipped off on Sunday with hosts Singapore enjoying a narrow victory against Causeway rivals Malaysia at Toa Payoh Sports Hall.

Singapore

It was a nervous start for both sides with many unforced errors. Singapore managed to take the first quarter by two goals (11-9) but it was Malaysia who looked the more settled and composed and won the second quarter to lead 19-22 at the half.

Only one point separated them with the final quarter to go (33-34) and it wasn't until the final four minutes of play that Singapore took the lead and won with only a two goal cushion 44-42.

Singapore Coach Kate Carpenter said, "We were trailing all through the match and came ahead when it counted. It was another great match between Singapore and Malaysia. Netball is a game that you can score very quickly and we came ahead at the right time.

"I think everyone has to step it up for the next game. We needed to be stronger on the ball, stronger to the ball and perhaps put more movement in our game. That got better when Cassandra Soh came on in the shooting, Jean Ng moved to the wing and Chen Li Li came on at the back. It moved a bit better.

"It was great to have Aqilah (Afiqah) on court for her first cap and I am happy with how she played. She's only sixteen, it's her first international and she's playing at home. Wing defence is probably her third preferred position so she did well."

Co-Captain Lin Qingyi said, "That was really, really close right from the start. We had to give it everything we had in the last quarter to finish the game well. I am really proud of the girls."

Looking ahead to the remainder of the competition she added, "We will take it one game at a time. We'll watch the other teams in action today as we haven't seen them for a while. We'll assess them and come up with strategies against them."

Malaysia's Captain Yap Suo Yuen enjoyed the tough match. She said, "Today [Sunday] was a very tight game and very tough. Singapore was very strong and very fast. We put in 100% but we weren't lucky today [Sunday]."

Singapore continued their winning streak over their neighbours that began ten years ago - the last time they lost was 2002 in the Singapore-Malaysia series. Their most recent results being 42-35 in last year's Nations Cup (Malaysia finished in third; Singapore finished second to Fiji) and 38-34 in the Asian Championships held in August.

The second match on court was between Namibia, who finished fourth last year, and Nations Cup rookies the Republic of Ireland. Currently ranked 26th and 29th in the World respectively, both teams looked to be well matched for height but the Africans dominated with their physical prowess and athleticism around the court, stretching 35-10 ahead at half-time.

The final match on day one pitted Tanzania, who last played here in 2010, against the 2012 Asian Championships runners-up Sri Lanka.

Tanzania got the upper hand in the opening quarter going 19-15 ahead. It was 14 goals each in the second just keeping the Africans in front 33-29 but in the second half they stretched further ahead and closed out the match 67-51.

Tanzania Captain Lilian Sylidion said, "I feel very happy. The game was tough but we tried our very best. Our shooters were good but to get better we must learn to open up our play and cut across the court."

Sri Lankan Co-Captain Gayathri Lankathilake was disappointed with the opening defeat saying "Our defence needs to improve. All our new players are in defence. Tanzania were very good, very quick. I think we'll learn a good lesson from that match and have a new game plan for the next game."

The action at Toa Payoh Sports Hall in Singapore continues Monday from 3pm local time.

RESULTS:
Singapore 44-42 Malaysia (HT 19-22)
Namibia 58-25 Republic of Ireland (HT 35-10)
Tanzania 67-51 Sri Lanka (HT 33-29)



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