Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland's strength in depth delights netball coach Rice

 

By Richard Bullick

Northern Ireland's netballers assured themselves of a top-10 placing at the Commonwealth Games by securing their first victory at Gold Coast 2018 against Barbados yesterday.

The girls in green were facing Fiji early this morning knowing another win would give them the opportunity tomorrow of emulating their achievement of finishing seventh at Glasgow 2014.

Elaine Rice's side came from four down at half-time to beat Barbados 49-39.

Versatile veteran Noleen Lennon was switched up front just before the end of the third quarter and nailed 16 of her 18 shots as Rice's side pulled clear.

With captain Caroline O'Hanlon pulling the strings, Northern Ireland edged the first quarter 12-11 but were outscored 13-8 in the second as Barbados hit back.

Northern Ireland regained the lead at 30-29 before the end of the penultimate period and turned on the style in the last, which was shown live on BBC1.

Helped by a rest day on Monday and the introduction of fresh legs, they finished much more strongly than tiring Barbados and took that last quarter 19-10.

Coach Rice said: "Today demonstrated that our squad depth has never been better. The girls who started did a great job soaking up the physical punishment and subduing Barbados.

"They kept us in contention and we were able to capitalise on their hard work by freshening things up. We knew it would be a challenging contest but the spirit as always was excellent and in spite of being behind during the middle, it was a deserved victory.

"The girls who finished will get plaudits but they'd be the first to acknowledge the starters bore the brunt of the battle."

Belfast Telegraph

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