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Netball - 27. May 2016.

Netball News from around the World By Reporter Rona Hunnisett

Domestic competitions take centre stage this week, with theBlaze Dolphins celebrating victory in the final of Singapore’s M1 NetballSuperleague thanks to a last gasp 50-49 victory over holders Sneakers Stingraysin the competition’s Grand Final.  TheStingrays took an early lead, ending the first quarter 13-9 ahead, before theDolphins mounted a spirited revival to level the scores before taking the lead26-22 by halftime.  The second half wasnip and tuck all the way, but the Dolphins held their nerve to take a famousvictory.  

 Following the Grand Final, Netball Singaporeannounced the players selected into the national squad for this season. Amixture of youth and experience, they will train together - under theleadership of National Coach Ruth Aitken - over the coming weeks, before beingtrimmed down after trials on the 28 May. Those selected from the squad, alongwith some possible additional invites, will then head to Fiji from 15-22 Junefor a training tour before competing at the Asian Championships (30 July – 7August).  The full squadcomprises:  Nur Aqilah Afiqah, Nur AthirahBte Zulkiffle, Nurul Baizuram, Yasmin Ho, Vanessa Lee, Avelyn Leon, PamelaLiew, Chen Lili, Kimberley Lim, Yu Mei Ling, Natalie Long, Parveen Nair, JocelynNg, Shawallah Rashid, Kwok Shuyi, Cassandra Soh, Anna Soo, Charmaine Soh,Melody Teo, Shina Teo, Toh Wan Ling, and a captain and vice captain will benamed after selections have been made in June. 

Meanwhile, South Africa’s Brutal Fruit Cupreaches its conclusion this weekend, with four teams in contention for thetitle.  In the first of the competition’ssemi finals this evening (Friday), the North West Flames will play the FreeState Crinums, while Jaguars Netball and Western Cape Southern Stings willcontest the other semi.  Tickets for theGrand Final, which takes place in Durban on Saturday afternoon, have been soldout for several weeks, demonstrating the rise in popularity of netball acrossthe country.  

Jamalco and University of the West Indies (UWI)Pelicans will meet in the 2016 Netball Jamaica(NJ)/Supreme Ventures Ltd (SVL)Major League final after winning their respective semi finals at the NationalIndoor Sports Centre on Tuesday night. Jamalco’s experienced line up overcame Molynes United A 35-29 while thePelicans maintained their composure and game plan to dismiss defendingchampions Mico A 39-36.   The final will be played this weekend.

Although the ANZ Championship continues apace, the Australian Diamonds will gather at the Netball Australia Centre of Excellencein Canberra this Sunday for a two-day Squad Camp, as the team beginspreparations for the International Netball Superseries and ConstellationCup.  National Support Staff will workclosely with athletes across all areas, including specialist coaching, sportsscience, physiotherapy and wellbeing.  CoachLisa Alexander and the country’s national selectors have invited three playersto attend the camp – Queensland Firebirds midcourter Caitlyn Nevins anddefenders Maddy Turner from NSW Swifts and Courtney Bruce from West CoastFever.  Meanwhile four members of thesquad will be absent:  Tegan Philip whois injured, Renae Ingles, who is on maternity leave, and Natalie Medhurst andKristiana Manu’a, both of whom have been granted leave from this camp.  Australia’s selectors will name the newDiamonds squad for 2016/7 in August.

As debate rages on both sides of the Tasman about the decision to disband the trans-Tasman competition from the end of this year, the final edition of the ANZ Championship is heating up nicely as it goes into round nine.  In New Zealand, coachNoeline Taurua will become only the third coach in the competition to takecharge for 100 matches, as her Southern Steel side looks to extend its lead atthe top of the NZ Conference with a win over the underperforming NorthernMystics.  The Cold Power Magic hosts theCentral Pulse in a must-win game for both teams:  when the two sides met earlier in the season,the Pulse sneaked a single goal victory, but since then the Magic have welcomedback Leana de Bruin and Grace Rasmussen from injury, and must be slightfavourites to take the points.  Over inAustralia, the Melbourne Vixens will be looking to push on from their win overthe West Coast Fever when they travel to Adelaide to take on theThunderbirds.  Both sides have beenunderachieving this year by their own standards, but with the ‘birds keen totake their first win of the year, and the Vixens pushing to build on last week’svictory, the stage is set for a close tussle. The final match of the round sees a mouthwatering encounter in prospect,as the NSW Swifts host league leaders the Queensland Firebirds in a repeat oflast year’s epic Grand Final.  Ten goalsseparated the teams when they met earlier this season, but can the Swifts finda way to break the Firebirds undefeated 21-game run, and steal the advantagewith the play offs looming for both teams? 

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