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ACTION FROM ROUND THREE OF THE NETBALL SUPER LEAGUE
Match 1: Magic Marlins 45-41 Misson Mannas (HT 22-25)
Round Three opened with top of the table Magic Marlins taking on the 2014 Champions Mission Mannas. Both teams went all-out to finish on top and it was Marlins that got their way, winning 45-41 to maintain their wining ways.
Neither team showed tiredness after their round two matches less than 24 hours prior and there was just a point between them (12-11) at the end of the first quarter. Both sides made regular changes to keep the legs fresh and the tempo high. Mission Mannas had the edge at the end of the second quarter and took a well-earned break with a 22-25 advantage.
In Mission Manna’s attacking circle there was a battle for supremacy between National goal shooter Natalie Long and the very experienced Jean Ng (GK) with Long having to come out of the circle on several occasions to gain possession, setting up her goal attack (Jocelyn Ng then Hildah Binang) to convert the points.
The third quarter swung back in favour of Magic Marlins (13-6) for a four-goal lead before a slightly scrappy final period. Violet Oneile stood her ground at GS for Marlins against Chen Li Li in GK for Mission Mannas. Chen was making her first appearance of the season following an injury and was joined by Olivia Flanagan (GD) for the final period as she also returns from injury. Nurul Baizura moved into the centre to push the attack and try and close the gap but it was just out of reach and the game and a second victory slipped away from their grasp.
Coach of Misson Mannas, Yeo Mee Hong said, “We can match them in every aspect of the game but today it was our own unforced errors that let us down. Baizura and Saadiah [Khamis] did well in defence and we coped well when they brought on their international player in the circle. I thought we played a controlled match and finished well, just too many mistakes.
“It was great to see Li Li make her return to NSL at the end of the game and she did well. So did Olivia when she came on. It’s good to have both of them back in action.”
Magic Marlins Coach Wendy Tan was pleased with the result saying, “As a team we believe that if we play well in the third quarter then we can win the game and the girls did that today. Every game is not easy but the players fight really hard and mentally they are very strong too. We didn’t come into this competition as the favourites but we are working well as a unit and are younger players are stepping up very nicely.”
Match 2: Tiger Sharks 56-36 Sneakers Stingrays (HT 30-15)
Both went into the match with a win and a loss to their name and it is Tiger Sharks who will head into round four with another win after a 56-36 victory.
Tiger Sharks started the stronger of the two with a 14-6 advantage after opening quarter. Captain Premila Hirubalan led by example once again, controlling her circle and working well off the ball to limit her opponents scoring chances. At the other end, Charmaine Soh stepped into the role of GA, supporting Melissa Teo, then Zhang Ai Lin at GS.
In Sneakers Stingrays defensive line-up, Parveen Nair (GD) and Vanessa Lee (GK) did what they could to regain possession but the physicality and momentum of the Sharks across the court left them trailing by 15 points by halftime (30-15).
Sneakers Stingrays started much stronger in the third and drew the period 12-12 (42-27), Goal Shooter Liu Xin Yi and Rachel Leong (GA) taking their long-range chances well.
Their chances were often squandered in the final quarter though while Tigers kept the goals coming to wrap up the match and take a comfortable win.
Stingrays coach Goh Seck Tuck knew the height of their opponents would always be a challenge. “We took a while to settle and are physically a lot smaller so that made a big difference. Tall opposition and good ability in their defenders meant we had to focus on short, sharp passing to try and work around them. I thought our shooters played with composure and did well.
“Sometimes it’s about an individual versus an individual and not a team versus a team and it was like that for us today. I tried to get the girls to focus on that and regroup with every quarter.”
Match 3: M1 Sunfish 39-45 Blaze Dolphins (HT 20-23)
Both teams wanted to bounce back from round two defeats and Blaze Dolphins settled into their rhythm quickly for a 10-17 opening lead, playing with confidence and control. The sister-shooting combination for Dolphins of Chen Hui Fen (GA) and Tan Hui Yan (GS) linked well to continue to create space and chances for the goals.
Sunfish were a much more composed outfit in the second period and started to interrupt Dolphins flow and make some solid attacking moves of their own – Nur Athirah and Claire Seah converting their chances. They took the quarter 10-6 to pull the score line back within three points at halftime (20-23).
Dolphins maintained their lead but both teams showed some signs of tiredness as errors crept into the third quarter (28-35) and in the end it was their opening quarter performance gave them the result they wanted – a 39-45 victory after an evenly matched final 15 minutes showed the determination and resilience of M1 Sunfish to fight all the way to the end.
Assistant Coach for Blaze Dolphins, Zhang Rong Zhen said, “We picked up our pace of play today compared with yesterday and stuck to the basics. We focused on simple passes and control of our game. They had to urge to win and we are pleased with the result.”
Joanne Loo, M1 Sunfish coach can see the positive elements of the performance saying, “We had a good game and put in a lot of effort. We gained a lot of turnover and all worked hard to defend. It was the experience of Blaze Dolphins that gave them the edge as we still panic a little and will improve on that as the league continues.”
Netball Singapore’s elite league continues next weekend (Saturday 7th Feb) at Toa Payoh Sports Hall, matches from 2pm.
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