Slow start, furious finish for netballers
Singapore get better as the game progresses to ease past Ireland
Singapore opened the Mission Foods Nations Cup with an assured performance yesterday, outplaying Ireland 52-37 at the OCBC Arena.
Veteran shooter Charmaine Soh scored 43 of Singapore's points, brushing off the nerves to deliver when her team needed her the most.
Co-vice-captains Soh and Nurul Baizura also showcased their chemistry before 1,910 fans with quick and precise one-twos that penetrated the Irish defence.
"It's always nice to have family and friends coming down to support us; the cheers and screams from the fans were motivation to play even better," said the 26-year-old Soh.
"Everyone wants us to perform well, and likewise we want to perform well. There was definitely added pressure, but we're glad to be able to overcome it early."
Ireland started brightly with three goals in three minutes. But the hosts soon picked up their game and finished the first quarter 14-10 in front.
Pamela Liew drew first blood in the second half but Ireland immediately responded with five consecutive goals to draw level.
The intense first half ended with Singapore 23-20 ahead.
National coach Ruth Aitken then made tactical substitutions, introducing wing defender Parveen Nair, goalkeeper Shina Teo and goal attacker Zhang Ailin.
Decisive interceptions from Teo and captain Vanessa Lim powered the hosts to a 35-30 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Singapore then increased their lead in the last quarter, scoring a whopping 17 points to win 52-37.
Despite the shaky start, Aitken was ultimately delighted with her girls' performance.
"Ailin opened up the spaces really well and even started to get more confident with her shots in the last quarter," she said.
"Charmaine was just outstanding in terms of the execution of her shots; we are really grateful that she was on song, especially after first quarter."
Like the hosts, Ireland are a team in transition. Head coach Joan Young had to make major changes to her line-up this year, after five senior players were unavailable through injury and relocation.
Despite the loss, she believed her team had a wonderful game.
"I'm very pleased with their performance today, given that we had four novices on the team.
"Since they're a new squad, they're not very familiar with each other and hence were not aware of where their teammates were.
"But, for three quarters of the game, I felt that we were very competitive, though we started to get unforced errors in the last quarter."
"Ailin opened up the spaces really well and even started to get more confident with her shots in the last quarter."
— National coach Ruth Aitken on substitute Zhang Ailin
- Zambia 46 Botswana 43
- Papua New Guinea 73 Canada 30
- 3pm: Papua New Guinea v Zambia
- 5pm: Canada v Ireland
- 7pm: Singapore v Botswana.