Singapore crowds thrilled by final day action as hosts finish strong for fifth
Tired legs ran out refreshed and hungry for victory on the final day of the Nations Cup 2009 with the all-important placings being contested.
Northern Ireland took the Nations Cup trophy for the first time after a home nation battle against Scotland and a 49-34 victory. The squad last appeared at this event back in 2007 where they finished third from five teams. This time around they were undefeated and managed to overcome their home nations rivals twice in two days – the last team they defeated them was back in 2003.
Winning coach, Elaine Rice said, “We decided to keep the same tactics against Scotland today that gave us the win last night but all credit to our opponents. They managed to block out most of our first-time balls and breakdown a lot of our plays.”
She reflected on the past week saying, “We came here not sure what to expect with all the different playing styles but we kept our consistency all week and I am delighted how it turned out.”
Northern Ireland made a confident start following their 55-31 victory last night and closed the half 27-19 looking solid a focused on taking the title. With only the North Channel separating both teams geographically, they play a very similar style of play – hard and aggressive in attack and defence with today’s clash being no different.
Opposing captains took their positions in the shooting circles once again and led by example. Noleen Lennon (NIR) notched up 42 goals (86%) and Lesley MacDonald scored 18 from 21 attempts (86%).
Denise Holland, Coach of Scotland took away many positives from this week’s competition explaining, “We came here as favourites based on our world ranking, but it’s been a tight contest. We have a young squad and we have used this event to rotate the entire squad and our main goal is 2014 when we host the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.”
Earlier in the day, Singapore once again faced their causeway rivals Malaysia in a battle for 5th and 6th spots and they were determined to lift their spirits after a disappointing loss to Tanzania the previous night when they missed out on a shot at 3rd place.
They started strongly in front of the red army of supporters and pushed ahead to a 30-16 advantage by the break. Malaysia, despite not recording a victory all week, continued to pressurise down the court to keep Singapore working hard for the full 60 minutes. Full time score – 53-34, a vast improvement on the six point margin Singapore recorded against Malaysia earlier in the week.
Aminah Asaari, Coach of Malaysia felt the experience of this week has been invaluable for her players. She explained, “We played a lot better today and it was a very good game. Most of the squad are young so we have time to grow and we have gained a lot of experience from this week at the Nations Cup.”
Confident and composed, the hosts have continued to improve throughout the week. The newly formed side have begun to gel and are excited about the developments they can make as a squad between now and the World Netball Championships in 2011.
Singapore Coach, Jill McIntosh said, “I am very pleased with how they played today. We improved from the first game, learnt a lot and finished in a good fashion. We now know how hard we have to work towards the World Championships in 2011 but today is the springboard for that next campaign.”
Third position went to Canada who overturned their defeat to Tanzania in the round-robin stages with a 37-53 win. Canadian Co-Captain and goal attack, Sabrina Versteeg was delighted with their third spot on their third time participating in the Nations Cup.
Versteeg said, “Wow, it was so good to get third place today. It has been a really tough week and this has really grown our confidence. We travelled a long way to get here and bringing players together from both sides of Canada is not easy but it is so inspiring to finish on such a high note.”
Tanzania have enjoyed three victories from six matches this week in their first trip out of Africa. The event has given them exposure to a range of playing styles and they are keen to build on this experience moving ahead.
Captain Jacqueline Sikozi said, “We wanted to win today but it was a really tough match. Since we’ve been in Singapore we have learnt a huge amount that we would not have been possible in Africa. We will definitely do better next year if we get the chance to come back to Singapore. This is my first time out of the continent so it has been a very exciting trip for us all and I have enjoyed it a lot.“
With the Nations Cup trophy heading to the continent of Europe for the first time in the events four year history, the reputation of the competition goes from strength to strength as a host of countries hope they will get the chance to compete in this tough and invaluable week-long competition.
Not only are world ranking points on offer but it is the exposure to varying styles of play from around the world that this tournament offers. This helps teams gain experience and confidence as they prepare to bid for glory at other major netballing events including the Commonwealth Games and qualification for the World Netball Championships which Singapore will play host to in 2011.
1st: Northern Ireland (Nations Cup Champions 2009)
Final Day Results:
1st – 2nd Match: Northern Ireland 49–34 Scotland (HT 27-19)
3rd – 4th Match: Tanzania 37–53 Canada (HT 17-27)
5th – 6th Match: Singapore 53–34 Malaysia (HT 30-16)
Match 1: Malaysia 45 – 63 Canada (HT 24-30)
Match 2: Northern Ireland 55– 31 Scotland (HT 28-14)
Match 3: Tanzania 41– 33 Singapore (HT 16-18)
Match 1: Tanzania 58 – 39 Malaysia (HT 30-18)
Match 2: Singapore 35 – 52 Northern Ireland (HT 18-19)
Match 3: Scotland 45 – 39 Canada (HT 24-19)
Match 1: Northern Ireland 66 – 41 Malaysia (HT 33-15)
Match 2: Canada 32–43 Tanzania (HT 15-22)
Match 3: Singapore 28–33 Scotland (HT 17-17)
Match 1: Scotland 52 - 39 Tanzania (HT 27-22)
Match 2: Canada 45 – 81 Northern Ireland (HT 23-41)
Match 3: Malaysia 33 – 39 Singapore (HT 18-19)
Singapore 30 – 45 Canada (HT 15-24)
Malaysia 29 – 48 Scotland (HT 24-38)
Northern Ireland 65 – 32Tanzania (HT 32-19)
Northern Ireland (19)
Tanzania (no ranking)
photos Janos Schmidt