No fans but walk in the park for sneakers

They overwhelm last season's runners-up Mannas to boost morale as tournament starts

Unlike last year when 500 spectators filled Our Tampines Hub for the opening day of the Netball Super League (NSL), the first day of the new season was a more muted affair.

Singapore upped its disease outbreak response to the coronavirus to code orange on Friday, which meant that the NSL kicked off behind closed doors.

With no fans allowed in for all three matches, it was left to players and officials from the six teams to enliven the mood.

Sneakers Stingrays captain Jane Tan said: "Every year, our club supporters come down to support us, so they were disappointed.

"But the players on the bench were quite loud and we tried to hype each other up and echo our coach's instructions."

Her team notched a convincing 65-47 win over last year's runners-up Mission Mannas, avenging their 54-53 loss to the Mannas in last year's preliminary final.

Tan, 26, added: "Last year we lost to Mannas by one, so to win by such a big margin is definitely going to lift the spirits in the team."

Sneakers coach Goh Seck Tuck was pleased with the winning start, commending the effort of his younger players like Angelina Lim.

He said: "I'm happy with the overall performance and the understanding within the team.

"Our Under-21 players are performing and the defenders also fought very hard.

"This win is important in terms of morale because the Mannas are the strongest team in the league."

The Sneakers shrugged off a nervy start to lead 16-12 after the first quarter. They pulled ahead 36-26 at half-time and widened the gap even further, ending the third period 50-35 ahead.

Goal attack Toh Kai Wei was in fine form for the Sneakers, converting 28 of her 30 attempts while goal shooter Wong Pei Ying missed just five of her 39 shots.

  • 93% 

    Goal attack Toh Kai Wei's shooting percentage for the Sneakers Stingrays, making 28 of 30 shots.

Mannas coach Yeo Mee Hong felt her side had started well, but admitted they needed time to work on the connections in the team.

Her team next face two-time defending champions Blaze Dolphins on Saturday.

She said: "This game has given me an opportunity to work on different combinations and areas to tighten up.

"Our connections in attack were missing, but we'll be working on that going into the next game. We've got to come back stronger because we're meeting Blaze."

 MARCELLIN LOPEZ
Mission Mannas goalkeeper Miki Ng going for the block as Sneakers Stingray's goal attack Toh Kai Wei takes a shot. The 65-47 win made up for Sneakers' painful one-goal loss in last season's preliminary final. ST PHOTO: MARCELLIN LOPEZ

In the other fixtures, Magic Marlins beat Llabten Narwhals 61-42 while Swifts Barracuda staged a comeback to defeat Blaze 38-31.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 09, 2020, with the headline 'No fans but walk in the park for sneakers'. Print Edition | Subscribe