SEA Games: Singapore claim netball gold after tense victory over Malaysia

(From left) Ho Ching, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Tony Tan Keng Yam posing for a photo with Singapore's netballers after their historic gold medal. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
(From left) Ho Ching, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Tony Tan Keng Yam posing for a photo with Singapore's netballers after their historic gold medal. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong taking a wefie with Singapore's victorious netballers after the final. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong taking a wefie with Singapore's victorious netballers after the final. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
(From left) Singapore's Hirubalan Premila, Lin Qingyi, Ang Shiqi and Nurul Baizura celebrate at full time after beating Malaysia 46-43 in the 28th SEA Games Netball Finals on Sunday, June 7, 2015, at the OCBC Arena. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
(From left) Singapore's Hirubalan Premila, Lin Qingyi, Ang Shiqi and Nurul Baizura celebrate at full time after beating Malaysia 46-43 in the 28th SEA Games Netball Finals on Sunday, June 7, 2015, at the OCBC Arena. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Singapore's netball players with their gold medals after beating Malaysia 46-43 in the 28th SEA Games Netball Finals on June 7, 2015, at the OCBC Arena. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Singapore's netball players with their gold medals after beating Malaysia 46-43 in the 28th SEA Games Netball Finals on June 7, 2015, at the OCBC Arena. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - Singapore gained revenge on rivals Malaysia by capturing the SEA Games netball gold medal on Sunday.

In a tense final at the OCBC Arena Hall, the Republic held on for a 46-43 victory to the delight of a partisan home crowd that numbered close to 3,000 fans.

This is only the second time netball has featured at the biennial Games.

At the 2001 edition in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore fell 42-53 to host Malaysia in the final.

Veteran defender Premila Hirubalan is the only member of the current 12-women squad that played in that match 14 years ago.

The 32-year-old was thrilled and relieved for a second chance against Malaysia. She said: "We knew it would be a very tough fight... but we kept our heads together and did a good job to win the gold."

She and her teammates had built up a 36-31 point lead after three quarters but the visitors produced a stubborn comeback and levelled the match at 39-39 midway through the fourth quarter.

It prompted Singapore coach Ruth Aitken to call for a timeout and calm the nerves of some of her players.

The break worked like a treat as Singapore returned to take the lead again with five minutes to go and closed out the match for a memorable victory to wild cheers from the crowd, which included VIPs like President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Said Aitken: "When it all came back to even, I was like 'oh my goodness, not again'. But I thought there was a real calmness within the group and they believed in each other. They did the work and finished off well."

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