Singapore no match for South Africa at netball world c'ships
Coach Aitken says Singapore will only benefit with more exposure against the top teams
SOUTH AFRICA 69
Singapore were given a stark reminder of the harsh reality of world netball, when the team were whipped 69-21 by world No. 5 South Africa in a Netball World Cup Pool C match at the Netball Central in Sydney Olympic Park yesterday.
Despite a promising start, the Republic's netballers were eventually outclassed by the bigger and technically superior South Africans.
"It was a huge challenge. The girls struggled at times to cope with the bigger bodies and faster pace," said Singapore netball coach Ruth Aitken.
"We had flashes of putting something together on court, but we just couldn't sustain it."
Veteran defender Premila Hirubalan said: "We had some good plays... the difference between the higher-ranked teams and the lower ones is the ability to adapt to the other team's play.
"South Africa managed to adapt to our play faster than we could with theirs."
While it would have been a monumental task for the world No. 15 Singapore to beat the Spar Proteas, Micky Lin and Co. managed to match their opponents point for point in the opening minutes, but still ended the quarter 15-8 down.
The South Africans gradually pulled away, leading 33-13 at half-time and 51-19 at the end of the third period, with Aitken making personnel changes regularly after the first quarter.
The rotation affected the flow of the Singaporeans' game, which resulted in the SEA Games and Asian champions taking 10 minutes to get on the scoresheet in the final quarter.
"We've got all our players out there on court, and you'd need to do that early in the competition if you want to use them later," explained New Zealander Aitken.
South Africa coach Norma Plummer said: "Ruth has done a good job with Singapore. I loved the wing attack (Kimberly Lim), I thought she was really feisty.
"I also thought the goal attack (Chen Huifen) was pretty good on the shots. Their skills have improved a lot."
Singapore are now third in Pool C, behind leaders Malawi and second-placed South Africa.
The girls have another tough match on their hands today, when they face world No. 6 Malawi in their final Pool C game.
Despite the lop-sided loss to South Africa yesterday, both Aitken and Hirubalan think Singapore can one day match the physically bigger netball teams who are higher ranked than the Republic.
Aitken said: "We need exposure more often (against top teams).
"It's quite different from the Asian netball physique and speed. We've just got to get used to it and harden up... and execute our game plan under more pressure than they are used to currently."
Hirubalan added: "We can handle ourselves despite the difference in size. We managed to take some balls off South Africa today and were able to force them, physically, to where we wanted them to go.
"They are a bit faster, so maybe our fitness can be better, but we are definitely able to contend with them."
POOL A: New Zealand 74 Trinidad and Tobago 38, Australia 83 Barbados 16
POOL B: Scotland 47 Samoa 36, England 54 Jamaica 50
POOL C: South Africa 69 Singapore 21, Malawi 101 Sri Lanka 18
POOL D: Uganda 61 Fiji 40
POOL A: Trinidad and Tobago v Barbados, Australia v New Zealand
POOL B: England v Samoa
POOL C: Malawi v Singapore (4.20pm, Singapore time)
POOL D: Wales v Zambia