Netball: Singapore finish third in Nations Cup, Cook Islands emerge as surprise champions

Ireland's Kristy Owens squaring off with Singapore's Charmaine Soh at the 3rd and 4th placing match of the 2017 Mission Foods Nations Cup. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - The national netball team concluded their 2017 Mission Foods Nations Cup on a high with a 60-41 win over Ireland to finish in third place at the OCBC Arena on Saturday (Dec 9).

Singapore had lost 53-54 to Ireland in their first match of the tournament.

Trailing 7-10 in the middle of the first quarter, 19th-ranked Singapore caught up to equalise, but world No. 22 Ireland edged ahead to end the quarter up 14-11.

The hosts levelled the score twice in the second quarter, before taking the lead at 19-18 for the first time. With Singapore always one step ahead of their opponents, the Republic maintained their lead to enter the second half with a 27-23 advantage.

Ireland's Jan Hynes took the court as goal attacker in the third quarter. But Singapore's smooth attack, coupled with defender Aqilah Andin correctly anticipating the Irish opposition's passes, saw the hosts widen their lead.

Up 47-32 entering the final quarter, there was no looking back for Singapore.

As the crowd of 1,600 cheered and waved their clappers, Singapore ramped up their attack to stay ahead and take the win.

In the final, which took place later on the same day, the unranked Cook Islands defeated No. 30 Swaziland 39-38 to win the Nations Cup title.

Cook Islands captain Luciana Nicholas said the win was a good start in helping the team get back into the netball world rankings ahead of next year's Oceania qualifiers for the 2019 Netball World Cup.

She added: "We came in not knowing what to expect and we were quite scared we weren't going to win anything, so coming through with the trophy is a great honour for us.

"We've got to play eight international games to get back into the rankings, this is our sixth and it has definitely helped us."

In the day's first match, SEA Games champions Malaysia, represented by a youth team, beat Hong Kong 48-43 to finish fifth.

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