KUALA LUMPUR - The highly anticipated Causeway clash between the SEA Games' only two netball champions ended in 2001 winners Malaysia's favour, as they beat 2015 gold medallists Singapore 50-37 at Kuala Lumpur's Juara Stadium in Bukit Kiara on Wednesday (Aug 16).
Malaysia took possession early and opened up a 3-0 lead, backed by about 400 home fans who roared in delight each time their side scored and applauded politely when the visitors did.
With the hosts attempting to intercept every pass and marking the Singapore players closely, the first quarter ended 14-11 in Malaysia's favour.
Costly errors from the Singapore side, who made several missed passes, and steady playing from their opponents saw the latter extend their advantage to 27-18 at the end of the first half.
Singapore made some positional changes in the third quarter, with goalkeeper Chen Lili playing as goal shooter and shooter Charmaine Soh in goal attack. Captain Vanessa Lee also swapped her wing defender's bib to play as a centre. But the Malaysians proved too strong, keeping their lead to go up 37-26 at the end of the third quarter.
With the chants of the crowd growing in volume, Malaysia kept up their momentum in the fourth quarter to take the win.
Singapore beat Brunei 62-37 in their opening match. Malaysia has two wins under their belt over Thailand (73-30) and Brunei (64-27).
Malaysia last won the SEA Games netball gold at the 2001 edition in Kuala Lumpur, where the sport made its debut. Since then, the sport has been included only at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.
In the 2015 edition, Singapore and Malaysia ended their group stage clash in a draw. Both teams met again in the final, where the Republic beat their rivals to be crowned champions.
Singapore next faces the Philippines, who lost 32-69 to Brunei in the earlier match of the day, on Wednesday.
The five-team tournament comprises sides from Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand and the Philippines.
The top four teams from the group stage matches will qualify for the semi-finals.