Netball: Hosts Singapore get off to winning start at Asian Championship with 68-19 rout of Brunei

Singapore's netball team in action during the opening game of the Asian Netball Championships against Brunei on Sept 1, 2018.
Singapore's netball team in action during the opening game of the Asian Netball Championships against Brunei on Sept 1, 2018.ST PHOTO: JEREMY KWAN

SINGAPORE - The hosts got off to a winning start at the 2018 Asian Netball Championships when Singapore defeated Brunei 68-19 in the tournament's opening game at the OCBC Arena on Saturday (Sept 1) afternoon.

National coach Natalie Milicich gave youth a chance to shine by fielding new goal shooters Lee Pei Shan, 18, and Tan Xin Yi, 21.

And both international rookies made a big impression as Lee, earning her third cap, scored 19 goals from 26 attempts while Tan, making her international debut, converted 20 out of her 22 tries to record an accuracy rate of 91 per cent.

Co-vice-captain Charmaine Soh chipped in with 14 goals while goal-attack Toh Kai Wei contributed with 15.

Milicich said: "Both (Lee and Tan) were nervous before the game but it's nice to get the first game under their belts. They posted very good shooting percentages and I am very proud of their performance."

There was no shortage of effort from Brunei, who tried to match their opponents with lots of hard running but Milicich's team won the day through their superior passing and marksmanship.

Brunei coach Jane Searle conceded that her side had lost to the better team, saying: "This has been a rude awakening for us. Singapore played an excellent game and they have shown their experience."

Singapore, who finished third in the last edition held in 2016, are in Pool C with Brunei and Pakistan.

Malaysia, the defending champions, have been drawn in Group A alongside Japan and the Maldives.

The other team that is expected to challenge for the continental title is Sri Lanka, starring 2.08m tall goal shooter Tharjini Sivalingam. They are in Group B with Chinese Taipei and India.

Group D is made up of Hong Kong, Thailand and the Philippines.

The winner and runner-up of the tournament will qualify for the Netball World Cup held in Liverpool next year.

Singapore's next game is on Sunday against Pakistan.

In the day's other games, defending champions Malaysia beat Japan 88-13 in a Group A match with Australia-based goal shooter An Najwa Azizan leading the scoring with 25 goals.

Sri Lanka, runners-up in the 2016 edition and with five players standing at 1.8m and above, opened Group B by crushing a Chinese Taipei side, whose average age is only 13 and average height only 1.6m, 137-5.