Netball: Singapore beat Ireland 51-35 to get first win at M1 Nations Cup

SINGAPORE - While Singapore notched their first win of the M1 Nations Cup with a 51-35 victory over Ireland on Tuesday (Oct 22), coach Natalie Milicich cut a slightly disappointed figure on the sidelines at the OCBC Arena.

Inconsistency throughout the four quarters has been a theme for world No. 28 Singapore in their last three games, and it is something she admitted has to be addressed.

The New Zealander said her charges had put up better performances in the 54-54 draw with Namibia and the 52-57 loss to Botswana earlier in the week.

She said: "As much as I like that we got a win today, our performance was not as good as the last two matches. We made too many unforced errors.

"We need to have an honest discussion of our performance and make sure that we don't make the same mistakes we did for today."

She felt that the team struggle to maintain their consistency, especially when in the lead. They had led against Namibia and Botswana several times, only to let it slip.

They also led throughout against world No. 25 Ireland, but there were times when they was a dip and made several mistakes.

After going up 13-5 in the first quarter, the hosts built on their lead during an impressive second quarter to go in 32-17 at half-time.

They grew their lead to 42-24 in the third quarter, but made several errors in the final stanza, in which they were outscored by two goals.

Vice-captain Aqilah Andin said that holding the lead tends to pile more pressure on the team, but it is something that they have been trying to cope with.

She said: "The pressure is so much more when you're leading because you need to play an A game to maintain that consistency. When you're playing a catch-up game, you don't have that much pressure.

"When you are leading by so much, you may get into those bad habits. We've spoken about it and we know that we have to keep working hard no matter what."

Ireland coach Joan Young said: "We were struggling at the beginning because a lot of balls went astray and there was a lot of pressure from Singapore in that position. We'll sit down, analyse and see what we can train and what we can change."

While there are still improvements to be made, Milicich highlighted that getting the win was important as they prepare to face their toughest challenge in the form of defending Nations Cup champions Cook Islands, who are ranked 12th, on Wednesday.

"It's critical, winning is a habit," she said.

Earlier in the day, world No. 26 Botswana beat Papua New Guinea (20) 58-36 and Namibia (33) recorded a shock 61-47 win over the Cook Islands (12).

Namibia sit top of the table with five points. Both Cook Islands and Botswana have four points, but the former are second because of goal percentage.

Singapore are fourth with three points. There are two more group-stage matches to go.