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Northern Ireland reclaim Nations Cup title after five-year absence

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On the final day of the Mission Foods Nations Cup, world number 12 Northern Ireland defeated Papua New Guinea 52-41to reclaim their throne after a five-year absence from the tournament.

The Northern Ireland netball team during the closing ceremony

The Northern Ireland netball team during the closing ceremony. Photo: Sport Singapore

Both teams had met a day earlier, and the outcome was no different, with Northern Ireland clinching the 47-35 victory.

Head coach Julie Kimber, who had only been with the team since September this year, was pleased with the performance by her charges.

“It has been an absolute pleasure with all of the players and this is the biggest stage that I’ve ever been a coach of,” she said.

“All of the squad just worked relentlessly and they are such fit players. They’ve gone from strength to strength every day and they’re very experienced.” 

Northern Ireland's Niamh Cooper (R) in action

Northern Ireland's Niamh Cooper (R) in action. Photo: Sport Singapore

She added: “There are a lot of times when I just listen to what they say because they already know what to do on court.”

In the third-fourth playoff game, Singapore proved their mettle and overcame their slumping form, exacting revenge on Botswana to win 44-43.

The Asian champions, who are ranked 15th in the world, had earlier suffered a disappointing 38-46 defeat to Botswana, who are ranked 19th.

Coming off the bench as Wing Defence, Ang Shi Qi provided a huge spark on defence as the hosts managed to overcome a four-point deficit. 

Singapore's Ang Shi Qi (R) in action

Singapore's Ang Shi Qi (R) in action. Photo: Sport Singapore 

Coupled with clutch shooting form by Goal Shooter Charmaine Soh and Goal Attack Yasmin Ho, the hosts took their first lead of the game with 10 minutes to play and never looked back.

“It’s been a fantastic tournament, and obviously we were disappointed to not start as well as we would have liked, but I think we showed great character picking ourselves up and delivering such an outstanding game to finish,” said head coach Ruth Aitken.

Aitken also sang Ang’s praises, crediting her performance for the team’s comeback.

She said: “She was fantastic. Shi Qi just came up and took another step up.

“Her speed on attack and her challenge on defence was inspirational.”

Ang, who credited her team for the support, said:“I think it was because I started on the bench so I get to see how my opponents play and how to counter them.

“After the first loss, we really went back, sat down as a team to analyze what we should and should not do and today, we stuck to the game plan and we really executed it very well.”

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