Singapore to meet Samoa again for Nations Cup title
It was supposed to be a routine victory.
After all, Singapore - Asian champions and ranked 19th in the world - have not lost to Malaysia in 11 years, and all signs pointed to a win for the hosts over their world No. 23 rivals.
But, at last night's Netball Nations Cup match at the OCBC Arena, everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong for the Republic - initially, at least.
Struggling to keep up with the Malaysians, Singapore ended the first half 18-20 down, before a gallant second half saw them emerge 41-34 victors.
After the match, Singapore coach Ruth Aitken joked: "What a match. What is this team trying to do to me?
"They're trying to make me age overnight, and that's not a good thing."
With the players still visibly fatigued from Wednesday's exertions against Samoa, there were some tired Singapore legs last night.
A miserable first quarter ended with Singapore trailing 8-12, and Malaysia picked up from where they left off, entering half-time with a 20-18 lead.
But Aitken rallied her troops at the break.
Revealing what she told the team, Aitken said: "Well, the Malaysians were really tight on us, so you can't go in soft when they're on your back.
"I just told them to just sit and shoot, because they're good shooters. We were a bit rushed in the first half."
That pep talk worked. Singapore, inspired by goal shooter Charmaine Soh's brilliance, roared back with 12 goals in the third quarter to overturn the deficit, making it 30-26.
It was business as usual after that, as Singapore stretched their advantage and looked back at their best.
They focused on getting the basics right and limiting mistakes to keep Malaysia in defensive mode to finish the match on a high.
Singapore will face Samoa again today for the title, and goal keeper Premila Hirubalan is confident of doing better this time around than their 47-53 loss on Wednesday.
"We have never beaten Samoa but we have a lot of confidence from this week, and our scoreline against them showed.
"We are up there with them. When we looked at the video, we could see that it was a lot of our own mistakes that cost us, so we need to focus on our game plan and get the simple things right."
Echoing that sentiment was Aitken, who said: "We need to close down the shooting circle, because Samoa are deadly from there.
"And they do have a slight height advantage so, for us, it's going to be full pressure defence from early on.
"We're going to give it everything, that's what it's all about."