Netball: Irish spirit downed by Singapore

Defending champions and hosts Singapore held off a spirited challenge from the Republic of Ireland to win 54-34 at Nations Cup 2012 at Toa Payoh Sports Hall.

Singapore vs Republic of Ireland.

A good crowd came out to support the home team who played in their alternate blue dress on Monday and they took an early lead to finish the half with a 29-16 advantage over the Republic of Ireland.

Solid shooting from Cassandra Soh (28 from 35 attempts) gave the team confidence and allowed them to establish a rhythm in their game but the Irish didn't make it easy for them and fought the entire match. They even led the scoring in the third quarter for a time before Singapore hit back and finished the match victorious with a 54-34 score line.

First caps were awarded to both Melissa Teo and Suhailah Kariman from Singapore as the team were able to play their full squad and experiment with playing combinations as the match progressed and they established a comfortable lead.

Suhailah was pleased with her first performance for the national side saying, "I was nervous but I had good team members around me who helped me get into the game.

"Today [Monday] was my first appearance and I wanted to do well for my country and my team mates and I am happy with my performance. Of course there is always room for improvement but I am pleased with today."

Kate Carpenter, Singapore's coach was also delighted with two wins from two. She said, "Good to have a second win today [Monday] and also to have the opportunity to give everyone a taste of the Nations Cup. Melissa was very calm and composed and Suhailah had three quarters in the centre and I thought she did very well."

Looking ahead to Namibia on Tuesday, she added, "We will prepare differently for an African country tomorrow [Tuesday]. We've had two opportunities to play them in the past at the Nations Cup but they've been two tight, hard-fought wins so we're very aware of the strength of Namibia."

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka had closed proceedings on day one with a loss to Tanzania and was first on court on Monday against Namibia who had one victory in the bag over Ireland. The Asian side were clearly out to make amends and came out very strongly to take the first quarter 15-18. They stayed ahead for a 32-37 lead at half time, settling into the match much quicker than they had against their African opponents on Sunday.

The second half was also very close and it was Namibia who took the third quarter by a goal. They held the lead into the dying minutes of the match but failed to block out crucial balls into Sri Lanka's shooting circle and with Tharjini Sivalingam on form it was impossible to stop her once the ball was in hand. The match ended 65-69 with the Sri Lankans delighted to get their first win and the Namibians very disappointed not to continue their winning form.

When the two sides met in 2011 it was a very different affair with Namibia winning 77-49.

Namibia were looking solid once again and looked confident in their attack but struggled to deal with Sri Lanka's goal shooter Sivalingam who had a 97% shooting average, scoring 66 of her 68 attempts at goal, all but two of her teams total accumulation.

Sri Lanka now has two points on the board and will have grown in confidence ahead of their meeting against local rivals Malaysia on Tuesday.

Malaysia went hunting for their first win of the competition against Tanzania in the final match but it wasn't to be as they lost 36-61.

The Africans were a class above for the first three quarters with their accurate passing and agility from end to end. Malaysia closed the match strongly but it was too late to impact the final result.

Malaysian Coach Aminah Asaari believes her team can improve. She said, "I am satisfied with the result because we tried very hard and gave it our best. Tanzania took their opportunities and we made too many mistakes.

"We were good in defence but are lacking in the centre court and shooting areas but we will try a new strategy tomorrow [Tuesday] and keep trying our best to win."

Tuesday's action at Toa Payoh Sports Hall in Singapore starts from 3pm.

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