19 July 2019 | Uncategorized

Sivalingam fires Sri Lanka to 15th

Tharjini Sivalingam set a new highest individual scoring record at the Vitality Netball World Cup, as Sri Lanka beat Singapore to claim 15th place.

Sivalingam scored 77 of her team’s 78 goals, beating the 76 she scored against the same opposition earlier on in the tournament. There was encouragement for Singapore too though, as they considerably narrowed the margin of defeat between the two meetings, eventually losing 78-57 here.

Unsurprisingly, Sivalingam the focal point of the Sri Lankan attack from the start, meanwhile at the other end of the court, goal keeper Chathurangi Jayasooriya won her 50th cap.

There wasn’t much joy for defenders at either end when the action got under way, as the first quarter became an intriguing battle between two different but equally effective shooting styles.

Sivalingam was the picture of consistency from under the post in the Sri Lanka shooting circle, while the effortless, eye-catching style of Singapore’s Charmaine Soh was again proving effective at the other end.

Despite one crowd-pleasing interception from the Singaporean defence, though, Sri Lanka were finding Sivalingam in the circle with almost mechanical precision, and she gradually built their lead as the first quarter wore on.

She registered her first miss – albeit she then converted the rebound – with 90 seconds of the quarter left, but the frequency with which her team-mates had been able to locate her in the circle meant that Sri Lanka ended the quarter with a commanding 23-15 lead.

Despite her shooters’ 100% record in the first quarter, Singapore coach Natalie Milicich made a change for the second quarter, bringing on the extra height of Pei Shan Lee at goal shooter.

As Soh continued her exceptional form in front of goal, Singapore began to build some momentum, as two successive turnovers handed them some impetus and helped reduce the gap at 29-22.

The long, high feed into the circle to Sivalingam was always an option for Sri Lanka though – despite the best efforts of the Singapore defenders – and she helped to push the lead back out and over ten for the first time.

With five minutes of the half to go, Sivalingam’s attacking partner Hasitha Mendis had her first shot of the game. She missed, but Sivalingam was on hand to ensure that the opportunity didn’t get away from Sri Lanka.

Singapore were still putting together some neat bursts of play, and hearing every interception cheered by the M&S Bank Arena crowd, but Sivalingam helped Sri Lanka to extend their lead further as the quarter progressed. The lead would have narrowed slightly had Soh managed to stay in play with a remarkably athletic attempt to retrieve the ball in the dying seconds, but despite her fantastic efforts then and throughout the half, Sri Lanka led 43-28 at half time.

Soh recorded her first miss of the match early into the third quarter, although she did well to regain the ball and score the rebound.

At the other end though, the ruthless efficiency of Sivalingam was continuing, and the lead hit 20 as she netted again to make it 53-33. Singapore coach Natalie Milicich made a change at goal keeper, bringing on Joanna Toh for Sindhu Nair, but the task off stopping the relentless service into Sivalingam wasn’t getting any easier.

By the end of the third, she had taken Sri Lanka out to a 65-40, with her shooting partner Mendis still having only taken one attempt at goal.

Both coaches rotated their squads considerably in the fourth quarter, which Singapore would go on to win by four. This was thanks in part to the defensive work of Nair and Aqilah Andin, which forced Sivalingam into more errors than she had made previously in the match.

Despite that, she had still recorded 100% of her teams goals right up until the last three minutes, when Mendis went for goal and converted for the first time in the game.

There was still time for Sivalingam to break a personal record though, as – with the last action of the game – she scored her 77th goal of the match, exceeding her previous tournament-high score of 76.

The match finished 78-57, bringing to a close both teams’ Vitality Netball World Cup.

Sri Lanka’s Tharjini Sivalingam said:

“I am so very happy. I enjoyed that, and I would like to thank the organisers in England, and my team-mates and coach. My team-mates practice their technique all of the time with each other, and I’m so happy that we have won.”

Singapore coach Natalie Milicich said:

“I’m really proud of how we finished. To win the last quarter was a real positive, and I think we’ve shown throughout the tournament that we never give up. Today was about us having a better performance and I think we did that, but the learnings for us are around consistency and managing those critical moments.”

17 July 2019 | Uncategorized

Fiji win again to keep 13th place hopes alive

Fiji beat Sri Lanka to claim their second win of the Preliminaries stage two at the Vitality Netball World Cup, confirming their 13th-place play-off spot against Samoa, the leaders of Group E heading into day six.

This morning’s match was effectively a play-off to decide who would face Samoa in the 13th-place game and who will face Singapore for 15th place – and it was Fiji who prevailed, 59-44.

This was the fifth meeting at a World Cup between the two sides, with Fiji having won all of the previous four matches, including a 77-31 victory at the last competition in Sydney in 2015.

Given the first four matches of the tournament, this fixture was expected to be a reasonably closely-contested encounter. Fiji currently occupy 17th spot in the international netball world rankings, while Sri Lanka are just one place behind in 18th.

Episake Kahatoka, the Fiji goalkeeper, will have studied the expert performance from Samoan counterpart Lenora Misa against Sri Lanka’s Tharjini Sivalingam yesterday – as she earned Player of the Match against the goal shooter – and applied herself with similar success.

Sivalingam – top scorer at the tournament over the first five days, and with 93% accuracy overall prior to the start of the game – was earning her 100th cap here, but Kahatoka restricted her chances with five aggressive interceptions inside the opening 15 minutes.

Sivalingam did score nine times in the first period, but given that Sri Lanka’s strategy centres largely on feeding her the ball as often and as quickly as possible, the Fijian defence had coped admirably. 

With goals exchanged frequently at either end, the first quarter concluded with Sri Lanka edging in front, 11-10.

After Sivalingam was thwarted fairly effectively in the first quarter, in the second, she seemed to be put off her stride. When she got the ball in her hands she inevitably converted, but that only happened on five occasions. Less than 40 seconds before the break, she was taken off.

Having fallen behind in the first quarter, Fiji scored 17 times before the interval, including eight times through goal attack Unaisi Rauluni who was earning cap number 36, and conceded only nine. At half-time, it was they who had established a seven-goal lead.

That advantage was only set to increase further, as the third quarter began with a flurry of Fijian goals. Goal shooter Matila Vocea was pivotal in firing her side into a 14-goal lead as Fiji flexed their attacking muscle. 

Having started the match so well, Sri Lanka were now firmly on the backfoot. Gayanjali Amarawansa, winning her 38th cap, started the game at centre for Sri Lanka before she moved to wing attack and then back to centre again. She, like many others in yellow and red, was by now struggling to keep meaningful possession.

A deluge of Fiji goals was halted abruptly as Kahatoka hobbled off to be replaced by Adi Vakaoca Bolakoro following a fall, but even missing their excellent goalkeeper, they were barely threatened as the quarter played out. The deluge merely became a steady flow.

Bolakoro admirably took on the task of dealing with Sivalingam, who had now returned to the court, while Vocea and Rauluni increased the goal difference to 19.

At the three-quarter mark, the result was almost safe for Fiji, and they had the fairly simple task of coasting home to victory, leading 47-28 at this point in the game. 

Sri Lanka narrowly won the final quarter by four goals, but Fiji’s 12 goals took the final scoreline to 59-44.

Both the 13th-place game – involving Fiji and Samoa – and the 15th-place game between Sri Lanka and Singapore, will take place during session 15, on Friday morning.

Fiji’s Kelera Nawai said:

“We worked hard, we worked together and we pushed. It was an important game. We’re very happy. We wanted to win that game because we wanted a rematch with Samoa (after the 55-54 defeat against them earlier in the tournament). 

“They’re going to come hard again – we’re expecting them to come hard. We’re just going to keep pushing and try to win the (Samoa) game.”

16 July 2019 | Uncategorized

Two-in-two for Samoa as Misa excels

Samoa will compete for 13th place at the Vitality Netball World Cup after they won a second consecutive match in Group E, beating Sri Lanka 65-55.

Samoan goal keeper Lenora Misa – the Player of the Match – in particular impressed, registering 11 interceptions against the obvious threat of the tournament’s top scorer Tharjini Sivalingam.

Sri Lanka beat Singapore by 38 goals yesterday to record their highest ever score at a World Cup – and their first win at a World Cup since matchday one in 2015, a 12-match losing streak – and topped the group involving the four bottom-placed stage one sides going into day five of the tournament.

Samoa, though, had won all five meetings between the teams at World Cups previously – and that 100% record continued.

Sivalingam, who shot 76 out of 78 (97% accuracy) against Singapore on Monday, continued her excellent scoring form as she netted all 16 goals scored by Sri Lanka in the opening quarter.

Misa, winning her fourth cap having made her debut at the World Cup, was kept busy and initially struggled to deal with the significant height difference between the pair.

After an incredibly end-to-end and flowing encounter across the first 15 minutes, Sri Lanka led 17-13. That ebb and flow to the match was something that was set to continue. 

The high intensity extended into the second period, though the quality, particularly from Sivalingam, waned a little as Misa began to make interceptions on a regular basis. The goal shooter missed four chances to score early in the second quarter, which only increased Samoa’s confidence. 

Sivalingam was punished by Samoa at the other end, as they won the period 19-10, and took the lead in the game overall, five goals clear at the halfway mark.

Samoa’s excellent interchanges and the clinical nature of goal shooter Toa Tanimo, who scored 21 times from 22 shots in the opening two quarters, meant they had edged the first half.

Samoa, keen to maintain the momentum built up from the previous 15 minutes, soon opened up an eight-goal advantage early in the third quarter.

Sri Lanka, though, were not prepared to go down without a fight, as they notched three times in quick succession themselves courtesy of Sivalingam.

As the quarter progressed though, it was Samoa who extended their lead, as they quickened the pace and got the ball forward to goal shooter Tanimo more quickly. Tanimo converted on 42 occasions throughout the match, missing just three times, and it was her goals that fired Samoa further into the lead. 

The gap was 12 goals at its largest during the third quarter, but by the end of it, Sivalingam’s conversions had pulled that back slightly to nine.

Goal attack Dulangi Wannithileka got onto the scoresheet for Sri Lanka as they cut the deficit to seven at one stage in the final quarter, but time was running out fast. With more and more urgency in attack, holes were left in defence which Samoa exploited on the counter-attack.

Sri Lanka won the final quarter by 17 goals to 13, but it was insufficient. Samoa took wins in each of the first three quarters and deservedly earned the two points. 

In the final match of the second group stage, Sri Lanka will face Fiji, while Samoa will play Singapore. Both of those games will take place in session 11, on Wednesday morning, before the placings begin on Friday. 

15 July 2019 | Uncategorized

Sivalingam stars in Sri Lanka’s first win

Tharjini Sivalingam scored an incredible 76 goals as Sri Lanka earned their first win of the tournament by beating Singapore 88-50 in the opening game in Group E.

Both sides started brightly, each claiming two goals apiece. However it was Sri Lanka who then put their foot down, with their tall goal shooter Sivalingam firing in seven goals to give them a 7-4 advantage.

It was a perfect ten as she extended the lead to 10-5, on what was already proving a difficult day for the Singaporean defence. Their main threat in attack was Charmaine Soh who netted nine of their eleven first-quarter goals. However Sivalingam had already boosted her tournament tally by 21.

The second quarter began in the same vein, with the Sri Lankan goal shooter taking her chances, and resistance being offered by Soh. Sivalingam’s shooting partner Hasitha Mendis got her first goal to take the score out to 28-14, but she was overshadowed by the prolific Sivalingam.

Even when marked by two Singaporean defenders, the outcome when the ball was fed into Sivalingam was almost inevitable. Pei Shan Lee, on for Singapore in place of the ineffectual Xinyi Tan, popped in her first goal to make the score 38-18, but Sivalingam’s relentless shooting ensured her side led 45-21 at half time.

There was minimal surprise among the court 2 crowd when the Sri Lankan goal shooter opened the scoring in the second half. She soon reached her personal half century, with the score at 52-24, and while Singapore upped their goal tally slightly from the opening two quarters, they were still down 71-36 at the end of the third.

The fourth quarter saw more of the same when a rebounded Singapore shot allowed Sivalingam to add another brace to her tally. The Singaporeans were starting to wilt, leaving more space for Sri Lanka to exploit.

The game’s star player was substituted as the clock ticked down, but there was still time for Sri Lanka to add a further nine goals to their tally to ensure an even more one-sided look to the final score.

Sri Lankan captain Chathurangi Jayasooriya said:

“This game was more challenging for us as we are the Asian champions. We are glad to get our first win.”

Singapore head coach Natalie Milicich said:

“At the end of the day you cannot make those errors against a team which is efficient in attack. We are a little team so we will always find it difficult to get ball. We have to make up for it by being more efficient with ball in hand.”

14 July 2019 | Uncategorized

Relentless Diamonds record tournament-high score to see off Sri Lanka

Australia confirmed their place at the top of Group A with a resounding 99-24 victory over Sri Lanka to make it three wins from three at the Vitality Netball World Cup 2019 for the current holders.

The Diamonds had already comfortably seen off both Northern Ireland and Zimbabwe over the course of the previous two days, but this was their largest margin of victory in the tournament so far as they flexed their attacking muscle, picking apart the Sri Lankan defence at will as the match progressed.

At this World Cup Australia – who fell just short of becoming the first team to score a century of goals in one game at the tournament so far – are still yet to lose a quarter, while Sri Lanka are yet to win one. 

After a relatively slow start from Australia, who allowed Sri Lanka some early possession, goal shooter Caitlin Thwaites and goal attack Steph Wood – who were rested for yesterday’s win over Zimbabwe – began to take control of the game. Thwaites scored 13 times in the opening 15 minutes and Wood added another six.

Back in 1987, Australia recorded their best ever defensive record in a single World Cup fixture against Sri Lanka, conceding only three times. 

Inside the opening quarter here, Sri Lanka had almost doubled that tally as they netted seven times, but the first quarter was a good marker for how the rest of the match was to pan out. Australia were by no means on top form, but eased through the game, keeping their opponents at arm’s length throughout. 

Heading into the second period, Australia were keen to put the result beyond any doubt as they increased their attacking intensity and scored an impressive 27 times, conceding just eight in the process.

Australian goalkeeper Sarah Klau, who won her first cap on the opening day of the competition, did well to limit the chances that fell to Sri Lanka goal shooter Tharjini Sivalingam.

By the halfway mark, Sivalingam’s 100% record in front of the net in this game was still intact, but she had only been allowed to shoot on eight occasions. 

At the other end, Australia netted 27 times to increase their lead in the game to 47-15, a 32-goal advantage. 

After the interval, the Diamonds were able to cruise through to the finish line, scoring 28 times in the penultimate quarter, with attacking pairing Thwaites and Wood taking their conversion rate to an impressive 75 goals from 77 shots between them in the game as a whole.

By the final 15 minutes, Sri Lanka began to tire having been twisted and pulled all over the court by the clever and efficient interchanges and fluid movements of the Australians.

Thwaites and Wood ended the match having netted 99 from 101 – completing the entire 60-minute game on court.

Sri Lanka only had enough left in the tank to score twice as the match wound down, and Australia only further strengthened their position. 

Australia join England and New Zealand as already-confirmed group winners, while Jamaica and South Africa will face-off in Group C to determine the final top-ranked side in the Preliminaries Stage One.

13 July 2019 | Uncategorized

Northern Ireland off the mark with Sri Lanka win

Northern Ireland earned their first win of the Vitality Netball World Cup as they beat Sri Lanka 67-50 this morning.

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.”

12 July 2019 | Uncategorized

Zimbabwe make perfect World Cup debut

Vitality Netball World Cup debutants Zimbabwe, bolstered by a rapturous support, bested Sri Lanka 79-49 to get their campaign off to a flying start today.

With remarkable shooting statistics from both sides the match was a compellingly competitive affair.

With their raucous support creating a so-far unparalleled atmosphere, the Zim Gems made a huge impression with their first ever World Cup victory.

The initial minutes were tentative as each team got a feel for the other, with both connecting well with their shooters. Zimbabwe got balls to goal utilising their speed and agility, whilst Sri Lanka delivered the ball to their towering goal shooter Tharjini Sivalingam, who, standing at 6’9″, is the tournament’s tallest player

Any turnover in this quarter was to be found either in the centre third or through penalties, and after finally breaking the steady goal-for-goal rhythm that had started the game, Zimbabwe gathered momentum and with that the lead, ending the first quarter 19-14 ahead.

Sri Lanka came out of the blocks fastest at the start of the second quarter, quickly reducing the goal deficit. They were able to steal ball from the Zim Gems where they hadn’t before and the steady, stalwart presence of Sivalingam, shooting at 100%, was able to reap the rewards.

However, Zimbabwe’s athleticism soon shone through again and the Zim Gems were able to locate the tips, intercepts and turnovers they needed to push on. With Ursula Ndlovu and Joice Takaidza firing at 93% and 92% respectively, Zimbabwe led 38-29 at half time.

The third quarter was a much more even, with Sri Lanka staying in contention by matching Zimbabwe’s physicality. Sivalingam maintained her 100% flawless shooting, a statistic matched by her supporting goal attack Dulangi Wannithileka.

Despite injures to both Ndlovu and Sharleen Makushka, Zimbabwe’s tenacious play wasn’t disrupted, and they led 53-42 heading into the final quarter.

They continued to dominate, with Sri Lanka only able to put their first shot of the quarter in as the ninth minute died away.

They found their rhythm, but it was too little too late, and the partisan support was able to delight in a final score of 79-49 in favour of the World Cup debutants.

Zimbabwe goal shooter Joice Takaidza said:

“I have goosebumps – this is a dream come true! We didn’t know we had so many people supporting Zimbabwe – to see the whole arena supporting us like that was so exciting.”

Sri Lanka coach Thilaka Jinadasa said:

“We weren’t in the game until the third quarter – it all happened in the last quarter. The girls lost the momentum, especially the centre court – they were not moving around as they should and I think it cost us the match.”