The Barbados Gems got off to an impressive start today when they defeated Singapore 69-34 in their opening match of the Vitality Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England.
The Gems totally dominated their opponents registering quarter scores of 17-6, 33-14, 47-24 before closing out the game.
The Gems utilized all shooters in the match-up and the stats were commendable, as Shonica Wharton netted 27 goals from 29 attempts, Sheniqua Thomas had nine from 12, Latonia Blackman scored 22 from 23 attempts and Brianna Holder netted 11 from her 13 attempts.
Goal attack Charmaine Soh contributed the most goals for Singapore with 21 from 31 attempts and Pei Shan Lee added one from her three attempts, while, goal shooter Xinyi Tan totaled 9 from 11 and goal attack Kai Wei Toh three from seven.
Barbados showed from the outset their intensity and dynamism. Tight player-on-player defence with a touch of added physical pressure presented an immediate challenge for Singapore. Shonette Azore-Bruce – the tournament’s third oldest player – demonstrated her World Cup experience as she commanded her shooting circle, dictating the balls that were seamlessly fed into her.
Soh was a shining light for Singapore in the first quarter, but as the Gems began to stretch their legs, they also stretched their lead – to 17-6 at the end of the first 15.
Quarter two began with a new-look Singapore attack, and it initially showed promise. By opting for shorter and sharper passes in the attack and competing more for the ball in the through-court play, Singapore were able to deny the Gems opportunity to poach passes.
Changes made in the shooting end similarly deprived Blackman as much opportunity to turn over ball and Soh continued to shine for Singapore as she shot intelligently.
As the quarter progressed though, a general lack of execution prevented Singapore from making the most of their newly found increased possession, whereas Barbados kept things ticking over, establishing a 33-14 half-time lead.
A new half saw another new Singaporean attacking line-up, and the improved connection in attack made Singapore a harder nut for the Gems to crack.
Xinyi Tan at goal shooter was able to support Soh, who had previously been carrying all the shooting duties, and with 83 per cent (5/6) she committed to her task well. Barbados built momentum in the last minute of the quarter though, adding an extra three goals to their tally, breaking what had up until then been a goal-for-goal quarter.
Despite Singapore coming quickly out of the gates in the final quarter the Bajan Gems were a tour de force.
Wharton, coupled with Thomas, showed the expectant Liverpool crowd her shooting prowess with shots from all ranges and with a 92 per cent accuracy, she enabled the Gems to quell any resurgent Singaporean spirit.
Barbados goal defence Rhe-Ann Niles-Mapp said after the encounter: “We’re feeling great – it was great that we got all 12 players on the court, and we played a consistent game, which is what we wanted. It’s always great to start with a win, and to get the competition going and get a feel for the court as well.”
Singapore coach Natalie Milicich noted:
“I think we actually improved as the match went on. Our lack of experience at this level certainly showed in those first few minutes, and to play catch-up against Barbados was always going to be hard, but I was really proud of how we chipped away and made improvements throughout the match.”
Barbados will play the tough New Zealanders tomorrow.
In the other matches played this morning, 2015 runners up New Zealand led by Maria Folau’s 39 goals from 43 attempts thrashed Malawi 64-45.
Meanwhile, Caitlyn Thwaites scored 25 from 26 attempts and Gretel Tippet 18 from 19 as defending champions Australia demolished Northern Ireland 88-24.
Zimbabwe clobbered Sri Lanka 79-49 on the back of 59 goals from 62 attempts from Joyce Takaidza.
Tharjini Sivalingam scored 44 from 45 for Sri Lanka.
World number two Jamaica thrashed Fiji 85-29 and South Africa won 76-45 against Trinidad and Tobago, whose 40-year-old attacker Rhonda John-Davis secured a new tournament record for playing in her sixth World Cup.
England beat Uganda 64-32 and Scotland won 53-35 .
All 16 teams play three times in three days in the first round-robin preliminary stage.
Tracey Neville’s England side, ranked third in the world, won bronze in 2015 and come in to this tournament on home soil as one of the favourites following their gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
Australia are the most successful team in the event’s history, having won 11 titles.