Singapore netballers beat Ireland for third win but not thinking of title yet
Another day, another win for Singapore.
Yesterday's 47-20 romp over Ireland was the Republic's third victory in as many games in the six-team Netball Nations Cup.
But coach Ruth Aitken was still unwilling to entertain thoughts of a title push, especially with tonight's clash against top seeds Samoa posing the biggest test for her team.
As she has done throughout the tournament, Aitken said after yesterday's win: "We're only thinking about winning the next game, as always.
"You only think about winning the title when you're in the final. I'm a very old-fashioned coach like that. We'll just keep focused on what we're doing.
"Because if you look too far ahead, you're bound to trip."
Things got off to a shaky start at the OCBC Arena for the Asian champions and hosts, who struggled to find any rhythm at the start and finished the first quarter only 10-8 ahead of an Irish team ranked No. 27 in the world.
The Singapore women went into the half-time break 21-15 up and Aitken's decision to make a switch proved a masterstroke.
She threw on 1.96m-tall Chen Lili as goalkeeper in the third quarter, switching Premila Hirubalan mid-court into wing defence.
It worked a treat as Singapore, world ranked No. 19, broke away to make it 35-17 at the end of the third.
With victory all but sealed, Aitken brought on Pamela Liew and Natalie Long, and both did their part to ensure a 47-20 win in the end.
"I just wanted to make sure that we rested some legs that have been working hard over the last few days. The changes resulted in a disrupted performance but a 27-goal margin is amazing," said Aitken.
"The bar has been raised and we want more."
The result extends Singapore's Nations Cup winning run over Ireland to four games, after successes in 2012 (twice), 2013 and last night.
But both captain Lin Qingyi and Aitken are well aware that things won't be as straightforward tonight when they take on the Samoans, who are ranked No. 14.
Said Lin: "I think there are a few things to be worked on before our big match against Samoa.
"We need consistency throughout all the quarters. It was good that we were able to put in a few players today that hadn't played yet.
"Defensively, we're going to have a real challenge because of the bigger girls that Samoa have."
Aitken agreed, and added: "If we can keep the ball, pass short and sharp. It's going to be down to our ability to keep our positions on court.
"We're going to need seven attackers and seven defenders, and it's going to be really hard."
We’re only thinking about winning the next game, as always. You only think about winning the title when you’re in the final. I’m a very old-fashioned coach like that. We’ll just keep focused on what we’re doing.
— Singapore coach Ruth Aitken