SINGAPORE – Three years ago, the Blaze Dolphins beat the Sneakers Stingrays 50-49 in the Netball Super League final, scoring the winning point in the last second.
Yesterday, the Stingrays avenged that loss, as well as their winless streak against the Dolphins last season, when they beat the defending champions 46-45 in the opening NSL match this season, at Our Tampines Hub.
Both teams did not feature in the league in 2017, while Stingrays lost all three matches between the two sides last year.
Said Stingrays vice-captain Anna Soo: “We lost to Blaze previously (in 2016) by one and this time we came back with a win so it’s a good start to our season.
“The team are very happy how we came back after the third quarter. The most important thing was teamwork. There was a lot of pushing forward from our attack and encouraging our teammates.”
The Stingrays raced to a 7-2 lead in the first quarter, thanks to quick attacking and sharp shooting by Wong Pei Ying and Liu Xin Yi, before the Dolphins tightened their defence, with Under-21 player and NSL debutante Yew Shu Ning making key interceptions.
While the Stingrays entered half-time with a 22-19 lead, the Dolphins came out blazing in the third period, outscoring their opponents 15-9 to take over the lead at 34-31 ahead of the last quarter.
The Dolphins then stretched their lead to 40-33 in the final period before the Stingrays stepped up their tempo, especially in the shooting circle, to claw themselves back into the game, scoring four goals in a row at the end to win the tie 46-45.
Dolphins coach Wang Jing Qing said: “We gave away a lot on our centre pass and if we had capitalised on them in the later part of the fourth quarter, we could’ve ended with a different result.
“We need to take care of our own passes and timing instead of worrying about what the opponent will be doing.”
She also complimented 20-year-old Yew, who played goal defence and goalkeeper but said she still has room for improvement. “For her first time, she did well. But we need to reposition her angle so she can provide more pressure in the circle.”
It is compulsory for all NSL teams to field two U-21 players every game for at least two quarters this year and Yew played the whole match.
“I was quite nervous, my hands were trembling before the match but after warm-up, I felt ready and told myself to focus and go for every single ball.
“I thought I did not do badly but more can be done,” she said, adding that she will work on improving her stamina for the next match.
In the other matches, Swifts Barracudas beat Magic Marlins 55-46 and Mission Mannas defeated new side Llabten Narwhals 67-54.
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