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Nations Cup 2022: Double Joy for Singapore on Opening Day

Singapore netballers defeat Ireland 47-45 in Nations Cup thriller; young Singapore A team beat Malaysia

PHOTO: NETALL SINGAPORE


SINGAPORE, 4 December 2022Nations Cup 2022 got off to a thrilling start on Sunday (4 December) at the OCBC Arena, with hosts Singapore delighting the home crowd as the netball team pulled off a gritty comeback to open their campaign with a 47-45 victory over Ireland. Botswana and the Singapore A team also won their opening matches, defeating Fiji and Malaysia respectively.


The first match of the day between Singapore and Ireland was close from the start, with little separating both sides who tied 13-13 at the end of the first quarter. Singapore led by as many as five goals in the next quarter, but a series of unfortunate errors from the hosts allowed Ireland to narrow the gap and eventually edge ahead to lead the first half 26-25.


Both sides continued to press each other on the third quarter, and Ireland capitalised on shaky play from their opponents to hold a 38-34 advantage at the end of the quarter. Singapore never let up despite trailing throughout most of the final quarter, thwarting Ireland’s attacks and moving quickly to feed the shooting circle.

PHOTO: NETALL SINGAPORE


Five consecutive goals near the end of the quarter saw the hosts overtake to lead 45-44 with three minutes of play left, as the crowd’s cheers got progressively louder each time the ball found the net. Though Ireland pulled one back to equalise, Singapore remained steady to shoot two more goals before the final whistle sealed their win.


Singapore, Nations Cup champions in 2006 and 2007, recorded a 69% shooting accuracy while their opponents had 83%. Singapore co-captain Toh Kai Wei said: “We were definitely a bit nervous because there were a few missed shots and passes, including by myself. When we were leading we were actually quite nervous and the passes went flying.


We really wanted to win this first game. After the third quarter, we settled down a little bit, talked it out and tried to calm ourselves and tackle each ball at a time. That’s when we had more interceptions coming through, and also more controlled passes. Going forward, we’ll definitely work on staying focused and having more control of the shots.”

PHOTO: NETALL SINGAPORE

Ireland coach Teresa Gillespie said: “Singapore gave us a great game, they came out fighting from the first centre pass. It’s hard when you’re the away team because the crowd is behind Singapore, so you’re really playing against 8 players instead of 7. We just have to attack the ball better, look after the ball, get it to our goal shooter and score often.


But I think our girls worked hard for each other, and they did all the things we asked them to do. We gave a structure, they followed the structure, but when that breaks down, we lose the game. But I think the girls did very well, Singapore was a formidable opponent.”


A youthful Singapore A side also had reason to celebrate as they defeated Malaysia 51-39 at the OCBC Arena. Keeping to the basics worked well for the Singapore A team, who have a combined 85 caps in comparison to their more experienced opponents who have a total of 292 caps.

PHOTO: NETALL SINGAPORE


Singapore A vice-captain Laura Low described the match as a “dream come true”, revealing that she had battled nerves ahead of the opening game.


She said: “Only a handful of us have international caps, so (the win) feels surreal for most of us and it was definitely a very good experience for us out there. There were a lot of nerves and being the vice-captain, I want to set a good example for my team. For me, it was about getting wisdom from the more experienced players, so I spoke to those with caps and what worked for them. I learnt a bit from different players and added those into my game, and that helped me calm my nerves.”

PHOTO: NETALL SINGAPORE


Botswana were victorious as well, defeating Fiji 60-43. Botswana dominated the first quarter to race to an impressive 21-7 advantage. The early lead proved crucial as the rest of the game was closer, with Botswana outscoring Fiji by just one and two goals respectively in the second and third quarters. Though both teams were equal on goals (12-12) in the last quarter, the Fijians found their groove too late and could not catch up to their opponents’ lead.


Botswana captain Fattimah Dino said: “We did expect it (such a close contest in the last three quarters), because Fiji are a good team. Our goal is to win this title and go home with the gold.”

PHOTO: NETALL SINGAPORE


The action continues at the OCBC Arena, Singapore Sports Hub, on 5 December, with the fixtures as follows:


3pm - Malaysia vs Ireland

5pm - Singapore A vs Botswana

7pm - Fiji vs Singapore


The 14th edition of the Nations Cup features six teams from five countries: 2011 champions Fiji, Ireland, Malaysia, Botswana, two-time champions Singapore, and a Singapore A team. The tournament will be played in a round robin format, with the top two teams advancing to the finals.

Tickets are available for purchase at this link here.


#SportPlusSG #Netball #NationsCup

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