Netball: 'Slow & rusty' start cost us the win, says Singapore coach Aitken

Papua New Guinea's Tiata Baldwin (left) fighting for the ball with Singapore's Premila Hirubalan during their Mission Foods Nations Cup 2015 opening match yesterday. Singapore lost 43-44.
Papua New Guinea's Tiata Baldwin (left) fighting for the ball with Singapore's Premila Hirubalan during their Mission Foods Nations Cup 2015 opening match yesterday. Singapore lost 43-44. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

A slow start cost Singapore victory in their Mission Foods Nations Cup opener yesterday.

The hosts, ranked 15th, went down 43-44 to No. 16 Papua New Guinea (PNG) at the OCBC Arena in a netball match that had always promised to be a close affair. Last year, only five goals separated the pair as Singapore won 47-42.

Yesterday, PNG raced to a 5-1 lead midway through the first quarter. While Singapore closed the gap to just two goals by the end of the first 15 minutes of play to 9-11, the hosts were condemned to playing catch-up the rest of the match, eventually losing by just one goal.

Said national head coach Ruth Aitken: "It was a pretty up-and-down game. The start was a bit of a nightmare, it was very rusty... and the poor start cost us the game because PNG's confidence got up and it was really hard for us to break that."But I was pleased that we really picked ourselves up after that (the slow start) and really fought our way back into the game."

 

A cold spell from goal-shooter Charmaine Soh did not help matters. Said Soh, who sank only 70 per cent of her attempts: "We have to give credit to the PNG defenders but it all boils down to me. I just need to focus on the game and just put the ball in."

Yasmin Ho, making a first appearance at the Nations Cup since 2008, kept the hosts in the game with her 81 per cent effort.

Singapore play world No. 12 Northern Ireland, the highest-ranked side in the week-long tournament, today. The key to beating Northern Ireland, said vice-captain Nurul Baizura, is "to give 120 per cent and put in an all-out effort from the start and not be too casual".

In other matches, Northern Ireland defeated Botswana 41-37 while debutants Chinese Taipei lost 25-57 to a Singapore invitational side.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2015, with the headline ''Slow & rusty' start cost us the win, says S'pore coach Aitken'. Print Edition | Subscribe