After both teams suffered big losses in their first matches, Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka were looking to right the wrongs of day one.
The Warriors – with quick feet and agility – took the early lead, with captain Caroline O’Hanlon, on the occasion of her 100th international cap, dictating their attack. O’Hanlon had been a doubt after taking a heavy knock in her team’s loss to Australia yesterday, but she showed no ill effects today.
Whilst Tharjini Sivalingam, Sri Lanka’s 6’9″ shooting weapon, kept things ticking over for them, it was the Warriors who were able to build a lead of five goals – 18-13 – at the end of the first quarter.
Substitutions early on in the second quarter saw changes to the Sri Lankan attack and it initially showed more promise. Sri Lanka were able to quell any attempt by Northern Ireland to push on, with the goal difference for much of the quarter sitting at six.
The Warriors, however, soon adapted and were able to press on. The combination of Fionnuala Toner, Michelle Drayne and O’Hanlon in the centre of the court provided fluid transition play, and allowed Northern Ireland to stretch their lead to 34-25 at half time.
The third quarter saw the Warriors really hit their stride. Goal keeper Gemma Lawlor started to successfully pick off more and more of the balls being fed into Sivalingam, forcing Sri Lanka to use Dulangi Wannithileka for the first time in the game.
This, with some mid-court tips and tricks, enabled Northern Ireland to keep building on their lead and go into the final quarter 51-37 ahead.
Sri Lanka started the final quarter quickly, and their newly-found rhythm compelled Lawlor and Toner to come flying out of their defensive circle to disrupt play. Their defensive efforts were rewarded as the Warriors took back control and emerged 67-50 victors.
Northern Ireland wing attack, Michelle Drayne, said:
“Parts of it went really well and we had really good passes at goal and good structures. At other times it felt clunky or even disconnected. We would have liked to have pushed on more than we did, but we’re really happy to get that first win on the board.”